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Tempting Goods, Self-Control Fatigue, and Time Preference in Consumer Dynamics

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Abstract

We describe consumers’ dynamic decision-making under limited self-control, emphasizing the fatiguing nature of self-regulation. The temptation theory is extended in a two-good setting with tempting and non-tempting goods, where self-regulation in moderating tempting good consumption depreciates mental capital (willpower). The resulting non-homothetic feature of consumer preferences helps describe self-regulatory behavior in such an empirically relevant way that it depends on the nature of the tempting good (luxury or inferior) and on consumer wealthiness. First, richer consumers are more selfindulgent and impatient in consuming tempting luxuries, whereas less so in consuming tempting inferiors: marginal impatience is increasing in wealth for high-end brand wine whereas decreasing for junk foods. Second, self-control fatigue weakens implied patience for tempting good consumption. Third, upon a stressful shock, with the resulting increasing scarcity of willpower, self-indulgence and impatience for tempting good consumption increase over time. Fourth, without substantial difference in wealth holdings, naive consumers, unaware of the willpower constraint, display weaker self-control in the long run than the sophisticated consumers do.

Suggested Citation

  • Shinsuke Ikeda & Takeshi Ojima, 2017. "Tempting Goods, Self-Control Fatigue, and Time Preference in Consumer Dynamics," Vienna Economics Papers 1704, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:vie:viennp:1704
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    JEL classification:

    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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