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Willpower depletion and framing effects


  • de Haan, Thomas
  • van Veldhuizen, Roel


We investigate whether depleting people's cognitive resources (or willpower) affects the degree to which they are susceptible to framing effects. Recent research in social psychology and economics has suggested that willpower is a resource that can be temporarily depleted and that a depleted level of willpower is associated with self-control problems in a variety of contexts. In this study, we extend the willpower depletion paradigm to framing effects and argue that willpower depletion should increase framing effects. To test this we designed two experiments in which we depleted participants' willpower and subsequently had them take part in a series of tasks, including a framed prisoner's dilemma, an attraction effect task, a compromise effect task, and an anchoring task. However, we find no evidence that framing effects were indeed more prevalent in willpower-depleted participants than in controls.

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  • de Haan, Thomas & van Veldhuizen, Roel, 2013. "Willpower depletion and framing effects," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2013-206, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbmbh:spii2013206

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Emre Ozdenoren & Stephen W. Salant & Dan Silverman, 2012. "Willpower And The Optimal Control Of Visceral Urges," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 342-368, April.
    2. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2010. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 1238-1260, June.
    3. Alessandro Bucciol & Daniel Houser & Marco Piovesan, 2010. "Willpower in children and adults: a survey of results and economic implications," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 57(3), pages 259-267, September.
    4. 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.
    5. Mead, N.L. & Baumeister, R.F. & Gino, F. & Schweitzer, M.E. & Ariely, D., 2009. "Too tired to tell the truth : Self-control resource depletion and dishonesty," Other publications TiSEM c60167a3-c3aa-4b83-9192-1, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    6. Dan Ariely & George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 2003. ""Coherent Arbitrariness": Stable Demand Curves Without Stable Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 73-106.
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    8. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
    9. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 2002. "How Much Is Investor Autonomy Worth?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(4), pages 1593-1616, August.
    10. Huber, Joel & Payne, John W & Puto, Christopher, 1982. " Adding Asymmetrically Dominated Alternatives: Violations of Regularity and the Similarity Hypothesis," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 90-98, June.
    11. Kaisa Herne, 1999. "The Effects of Decoy Gambles on Individual Choice," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(1), pages 31-40, August.
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    More about this item


    willpower; ego depletion; framing; willpower depletion; experiment; behavioral economics;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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