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On the Interaction of Memory and Procrastination: Implications for Reminders

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  • Keith M. Marzilli Ericson

Abstract

I examine the interaction between present-bias and limited memory. Individuals in the model must choose when and whether to complete a task, but may forget or procrastinate. Present-bias expands the effect of memory: it induces delay and limits take-up of reminders. Cheap reminder technology can bound the cost of limited memory for time-consistent individuals but not for present-biased individuals, who procrastinate on setting up reminders. Moreover, while improving memory increases welfare for time-consistent individuals, it may harm present-biased individuals because limited memory can function as a commitment device. Thus, present-biased individuals may be better off with reminders that are unanticipated. Finally, I show how to optimally time the delivery of reminders to present-biased individuals.

Suggested Citation

  • Keith M. Marzilli Ericson, 2014. "On the Interaction of Memory and Procrastination: Implications for Reminders," NBER Working Papers 20381, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20381
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Patterson, Richard W., 2018. "Can behavioral tools improve online student outcomes? Experimental evidence from a massive open online course," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 293-321.
    2. Michael Grubb, 2015. "Failing to Choose the Best Price: Theory, Evidence, and Policy," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(3), pages 303-340, November.
    3. Ericson, Keith M. Marzilli, 2020. "When consumers do not make an active decision: Dynamic default rules and their equilibrium effects," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 369-385.
    4. Thunström, Linda, 2019. "Preferences for fairness over losses," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
    5. Fuhai HONG & Xiaojian ZHAO, 2014. "Sunk Cost as a Self-Disciplining Device," Economic Growth Centre Working Paper Series 1503, Nanyang Technological University, School of Social Sciences, Economic Growth Centre.
    6. Thunström, Linda & Gilbert, Ben & Ritten, Chian Jones, 2018. "Nudges that hurt those already hurting – distributional and unintended effects of salience nudges," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 267-282.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics

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