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Naïve and capricious: Stumbling into the ring of self-control conflict

Author

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  • Kristian Ove R. Myrseth

    (ESMT European School of Management and Technology)

  • Conny Wollbrant

    (University of Gothenburg)

Abstract

We model self-control conflict as a stochastic struggle of an agent against a visceral influence, which impels the agent to act sub-optimally. The agent holds costly pre-commitment technology to avoid the conflict altogether and may decide whether to procure pre-commitment or to confront the visceral influence. We examine naïve expectations for the strength of the visceral influence; underestimating the visceral influence may lead the agent to exaggerate the expected utility of resisting temptation, and so mistakenly forego pre-commitment. Our analysis reveals conditions under which higher willpower – and lower visceral influence – reduces welfare. We further demonstrate that lowering risk aversion could reduce welfare. The aforementioned results call into question certain policy measures aimed at helping people improve their own behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Conny Wollbrant, 2011. "Naïve and capricious: Stumbling into the ring of self-control conflict," ESMT Research Working Papers ESMT-11-09, ESMT European School of Management and Technology.
  • Handle: RePEc:esm:wpaper:esmt-11-09
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Martin G. Kocher & Peter Martinsson & Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Conny E. Wollbrant, 2017. "Strong, bold, and kind: self-control and cooperation in social dilemmas," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 20(1), pages 44-69, March.
    2. Peter Martinsson & Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Conny Wollbrant, 2012. "Reconciling pro-social vs. selfish behavior: On the role of self-control," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(3), pages 304-315, May.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    self-control; temptation; inter-temporal choice; pre-commitment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D69 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Other
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General

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