Future Lock-In: Future Implementation Increases Selection of 'Should' Choices
Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)
Max H. Bazerman
Harvard Business School - Negotiations, Organizations and Markets Unit
Harvard PON Working Paper No. 983148
Harvard NOM Working Paper No. 07-038
People often experience tension over certain choices (e.g., they should reduce their gas consumption or increase their savings, but they do not want to). Some posit that this tension arises from the competing interests of a deliberative should self and an affective want self. We show that people are more likely to select choices that serve the should self (should-choices) when the choices will be implemented in the distant rather than the near future. This future lock-in is demonstrated in four experiments for should-choices involving donation, public policy, and self-improvement. Additionally, we show that future lock-in can arise without changing the structure of a should-choice, but by just changing people's temporal focus. Finally, we provide evidence that the should self operates at a higher construal level (abstract, superordinate) than the want self, and that this difference in construal partly underlies future lock-in.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 63
Keywords: Decision-making, construal level theory, wise policy, intertemporal choice, want/should conflict, multiple selves
Date posted: April 30, 2007
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