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Motivational Goal Bracketing

Author

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  • Koch, Alexander K.

    () (Aarhus University)

  • Nafziger, Julia

    () (Aarhus University)

Abstract

It is a puzzle why people often evaluate consequences of choices separately (narrow bracketing) rather than jointly (broad bracketing). We study the hypothesis that a present-biased individual, who faces two tasks, may bracket his goals narrowly for motivational reasons. Goals motivate because they serve as reference points that make substandard performance psychologically painful. A broad goal allows high performance in one task to compensate for low performance in the other. This partially insures against the risk of falling short of ones' goal(s), but creates incentives to shirk in one of the tasks. Narrow goals have a stronger motivational force and thus can be optimal. In particular, if one task outcome becomes known before working on the second task, narrow bracketing is always optimal.

Suggested Citation

  • Koch, Alexander K. & Nafziger, Julia, 2009. "Motivational Goal Bracketing," IZA Discussion Papers 4471, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4471
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Richard H. Thaler & Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman & Alan Schwartz, 1997. "The Effect of Myopia and Loss Aversion on Risk Taking: An Experimental Test," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 647-661.
    2. Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.
    3. Hsiaw, Alice, 2013. "Goal-setting and self-control," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(2), pages 601-626.
    4. Terrance Odean, 1998. "Are Investors Reluctant to Realize Their Losses?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1775-1798, October.
    5. Alexander K. Koch & Julia Nafziger, 2011. "Self‐regulation through Goal Setting," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 113(1), pages 212-227, March.
    6. Fabian Herweg & Daniel Müller, 2011. "Performance of procrastinators: on the value of deadlines," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 70(3), pages 329-366, March.
    7. Anton Suvorov & Jeroen van de Ven, 2008. "Goal Setting as a Self-Regulation Mechanism," Working Papers w0122, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Koch, Alexander K. & Nafziger, Julia, 2016. "Goals and bracketing under mental accounting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 305-351.
    2. Alexander K. Koch & Julia Nafziger, 2016. "Correlates of Narrow Bracketing," Economics Working Papers 2016-01, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    3. Patrick Kampkötter & Kathrin Marggraf & Jan-Hendrik Zimmermann, 2017. "Determinants and effects of formal target agreements: an empirical investigation of German firms," Review of Managerial Science, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 1-18, January.
    4. Dalton, P.S. & Gonzalez Jimenez, V.H. & Noussair, C.N., 2015. "Paying with Self-Chosen Goals : Incentives and Gender Differences," Discussion Paper 2015-021, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    5. Koch, Alexander K. & Nafziger, Julia, 2011. "Goals and Psychological Accounting," IZA Discussion Papers 5802, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Gonzalez Jimenez, Victor, 2016. "Believe Me, You are (not) that Bad," Discussion Paper 2016-032, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    7. Dalton, P.S. & Gonzalez Jimenez, V.H. & Noussair, Charles, 2016. "Self-Chosen Goals : Incentives and Gender Differences (revision of 2015-021)," Discussion Paper 2016-036, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    goals; multiple tasks; motivational bracketing; self-control; time inconsistency; psychology;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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