IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Present-Bias, Procrastination and Deadlines in a Field Experiment

  • Alberto Bisin
  • Kyle Hyndman

We study procrastination in the context of a field experiment involving students who must exert costly effort to complete certain tasks by a fixed deadline. Students display a strong demand for commitment in the form of self-imposed deadlines. However, deadlines appear not to increase task completion rates. Students who report themselves as being more disorganized delay task completion significantly more. We estimate that the fraction of students displaying present bias in our sample is over 40%. Furthermore, we structurally estimate present bias and other possible behavioral aspects of students' decision making by fitting the experimental data on both completion rates and failed attempts through a stylized stopping time choice model. The point estimate of present bias is 30% in our preferred specification. Present-bias appears, however, not to significantly affect behavior in the context of repeated similar tasks. This suggests various frame effects whereby repeated similar task activate internal self-control. Beyond present bias, our results indicate that other behavioral characteristics play an important role in inducing procrastination.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to the full text is generally limited to series subscribers, however if the top level domain of the client browser is in a developing country or transition economy free access is provided. More information about subscriptions and free access is available at Free access is also available to older working papers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19874.

in new window

Date of creation: Jan 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19874
Note: CH ED
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & Melonie B. Williams, 2002. "Estimating Individual Discount Rates in Denmark: A Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1606-1617, December.
  2. Xavier Gin� & Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2010. "Put Your Money Where Your Butt Is: A Commitment Contract for Smoking Cessation," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 213-35, October.
  3. Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2002. "Willpower and Personal Rules," CEPR Discussion Papers 3143, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. repec:lmu:muenar:19377 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Burger, Nicholas & Charness, Gary & Lynham, John, 2011. "Field and online experiments on self-control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 393-404, March.
  6. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 635-672, May.
  7. Esther Duflo & Michael Kremer & Jonathan Robinson, 2009. "Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya," NBER Working Papers 15131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Daniel Houser & Daniel Schunk & Joachim Winter & Erte Xiao, 2010. "Temptation and commitment in the laboratory," IEW - Working Papers 488, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  9. S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 5.
  10. Michal Bauer & Julie Chytilová & Jonathan Morduch, 2008. "Behavioral Foundations of Microcredit: Experimental and Survey Evidence From Rural India," Working Papers IES 2008/28, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Nov 2008.
  11. Casari, Marco, 2006. "Pre-Commitment and Flexibility in a Time Decision Experiment," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1183, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  12. 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.
  13. Loewenstein, George & Prelec, Drazen, 1992. "Anomalies in Intertemporal Choice: Evidence and an Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 573-97, May.
  14. Benhabib, Jess & Bisin, Alberto & Schotter, Andrew, 2010. "Present-bias, quasi-hyperbolic discounting, and fixed costs," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 205-223, July.
  15. Uri Benzion & Amnon Rapoport & Joseph Yagil, 1989. "Discount Rates Inferred from Decisions: An Experimental Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(3), pages 270-284, March.
  16. Novarese, Marco & Di Giovinazzo, Viviana, 2013. "Promptness and Academic Performance," MPRA Paper 49746, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  17. Battaglini, Marco & Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2003. "Self-Control in Peer Groups," IDEI Working Papers 189, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  18. Ximena Cadena & Antoinette Schoar & Alexandra Cristea & Héber M. Delgado-Medrano, 2011. "Fighting Procrastination in the Workplace: An Experiment," NBER Working Papers 16944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Mark Dean & Anja Sautmann, 2014. "Credit Constraints and the Measurement of Time Preferences," Working Papers 2014-1, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  20. Stephan Meier & Charles Sprenger, 2010. "Present-Biased Preferences and Credit Card Borrowing," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 193-210, January.
  21. Benhabib, Jess & Bisin, Alberto, 2005. "Modeling internal commitment mechanisms and self-control: A neuroeconomics approach to consumption-saving decisions," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 460-492, August.
  22. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
  23. Alexander L. Brown & Colin F. Camerer & Zhikang Eric Chua, 2006. "Learning and Visceral Temptation in Dynamic Savings Experiments," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000048, UCLA Department of Economics.
  24. Alessandro Tarozzi & Aprajit Mahajan, 2011. "Time Inconsistency, Expectations and Technology Adoption: The Case of Insecticide Treated Nets," Working Papers 11-14, Duke University, Department of Economics.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19874. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.