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Procrastination, Self-Imposed Deadlines and Other Commitment Devices

  • Kyle Hyndman



  • Alberto Bisin



In this paper we model a decision maker who must exert costly effort to complete a single task by a fixed deadline. Effort costs evolve stochastically in continuous time. The decision maker will then optimally wait to exert effort until costs are less than a given threshold, the solution to an optimal stopping time problem. We derive the solution to this model for three cases: (1) time consistent decision makers, (2) naive hyperbolic discounters and (3) sophisticated hyperbolic discounters. Sophisticated hyperbolic discounters behave as if they were time consistent but instead have a smaller reward for completing the task. We show that sophisticated decision makers will often self-impose a deadline to ensure early completion of the task. Other forms of commitment are also discussed.

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Paper provided by Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 0904.

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Date of creation: Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:smu:ecowpa:0904
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, P.O. Box 750496, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX 75275-0496
Phone: 214-768-2715
Fax: 214-768-1821
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  1. Jianjun Miao, 2008. "Option exercise with temptation," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 473-501, March.
  2. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2004. "Self-Control and the Theory of Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 119-158, 01.
  3. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  4. Laibson, David I. & Harris, Christopher, 2012. "Instantaneous Gratification," Scholarly Articles 9918802, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Peter Carr & Robert Jarrow & Ravi Myneni, 1992. "Alternative Characterizations Of American Put Options," Mathematical Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(2), pages 87-106.
  6. Maria Saez-Marti & Anna Sjögren, 2007. "Deadlines and Distractions," IEW - Working Papers 347, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  7. Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin ., 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Economics Working Papers 97-253, University of California at Berkeley.
  8. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2001. "Temptation and Self-Control," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1403-1435, November.
  9. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Filippos Papakonstantinou & Jonathan A. Parker, 2008. "An Economic Model of the Planning Fallacy," NBER Working Papers 14228, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Nicholas Burger & Gary Charness & John Lynham, 2008. "Three Field Experiments on Procrastination and Willpower," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002399, David K. Levine.
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