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Think, but Not Too Much: A Dual-Process Model of Willpower and Self-Control

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  • Alos Ferrer, Carlos

Abstract

Dual-process theories view decisions as the result of the interaction of two qualitatively different types of processes, automatic/impulsive and controlled/deliberative. This paper considers a model of self-control where each decision can be taken by either an automatic process or a deliberative one. In line with recent evidence from psychology, effortful self-control (willpower) is modeled as a limited resource, i.e. exercising self-control for an initial decision limits the amount of self-control available for persevering later. Automatic decisions follow a reinforcement-based process, while controlled ones are utility-maximizing. A "personal evolution" approach shows that agents might fall into self-control traps: for instance, although exercising full self-control might be efficient, decision makers might be caught in a "personal optimum" where no self-control is exercised. Reciprocally, agents might also fall prey to excessive self-control, where they waste willpower in initial decisions only to give in to temptation later.

Suggested Citation

  • Alos Ferrer, Carlos, 2013. "Think, but Not Too Much: A Dual-Process Model of Willpower and Self-Control," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 80019, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc13:80019
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    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/80019/1/VfS_2013_pid_671.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games

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