Highbrow Films Gather Dust: A Study of Dynamic Inconsistency and Online DVD Rentals
We report on a field study demonstrating systematic differences between the preferences people anticipate they will have over a series of options in the future and their subsequent revealed preferences over those options. Using a novel panel data set, we analyze the film rental and return patterns of a sample of online DVD rental customers over a period of four months. We predict and find that people are more likely to rent DVDs in one order and return them in the reverse order when should DVDs (e.g., documentaries) are rented before want DVDs (e.g., action films). This effect is sizeable in magnitude, with a 2% increase in the probability of a reversal in preferences (from a baseline rate of 12%) ensuing if the first of two sequentially rented movies has more should and fewer want characteristics than the second film. Similarly, we also predict and find that should DVDs are held significantly longer than want DVDs within-customer. Finally, we find that as the same customers gain more experience with online DVD rentals, their "dynamic inconsistency" is attenuated. We interpret our results as evidence that myopia has a meaningful impact on decisions in the field and that people learn about their myopia with experience, allowing them to curb its influence.
|Date of creation:||Jun 2007|
|Date of revision:||Apr 2008|
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