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Self-Regulation through Goal Setting

  • Koch, Alexander K.

    ()

    (Aarhus University)

  • Nafziger, Julia

    ()

    (Aarhus University)

Goals are an important source of motivation. But little is known about why and how people set them. We address these questions in a model based on two stylized facts from psychology and behavioral economics: i) Goals serve as reference points for performance. ii) Present-biased preferences create self-control problems. We show how goals permit self-regulation, but also that they are painful self-disciplining devices. Greater self-control problems therefore lead to stronger self-regulation through goals only up to a certain point. For severely present-biased preferences, the required goal for self-regulation is too painful and the individual rather gives up.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp3893.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3893.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Scandinavian Journal of Economics , 2011, 113 (1), 212-227;
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3893
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  1. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2001. "Temptation and Self-Control," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1403-1435, November.
  2. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Fabian Herweg & Daniel Müller, 2008. "Performance of Procrastinators: On the Value of Deadlines," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse3_2008, University of Bonn, Germany.
  4. Koszegi, Botond & Rabin, Matthew, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt0w82b6nm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  5. Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin ., 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Economics Working Papers 97-253, University of California at Berkeley.
  6. Gine, Xavier & Karlan, Dean & Zinman, Jonathan, 2009. "Put your money where your butt is : a commitment contract for smoking cessation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4985, The World Bank.
  7. Luis Rayo & Gary S. Becker, 2007. "Evolutionary Efficiency and Happiness," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 302-337.
  8. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  9. Klaus Wertenbroch, 1998. "Consumption Self-Control by Rationing Purchase Quantities of Virtue and Vice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(4), pages 317-337.
  10. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages S164-S187, February.
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