Experiences Versus Memories: Should Law and Policy Care More About Your First Love or Your Memories of It?
Peter H. Huang
University of Colorado Law School
November 3, 2011
Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-03
Based upon subjective well-being research and neuroscience studies, 2002 Nobel Laureate in Economics, Daniel Kahneman, poses a riddle about how our experiencing selves differ systematically from our remembering selves. Remembered emotions (memories) are usually rosier than experienced ones, and individuals are guided by predicted emotions which tend to coincide with their memories. This Article advocates that law and policy should care more about people's experiences than memories if and when those experiences result in chronic health or stress consequences that either (1) societies care about more than individuals do (because of externalities, public bads, or public goods) or (2) individuals also care about, but were unaware of, do not remember, or are unable to act upon (due to self-control problems). This Article analyzes examples of chronic health or stress effects from such experiences as dense and long commutes, discrimination, unhealthy eating, regular physical exercise, sedentary behavior, and financial/retirement planning.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 84
Keywords: Experiences, Memories, Health, Stress, Commuting, Discrimination, Obesity, Financial Planning
JEL Classification: D03, D1, D6, I1, I3, K0, K32, R12, R4working papers series
Date posted: January 20, 2011 ; Last revised: November 3, 2011
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