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Do You Look to the Future or Focus on Today? The Impact of Life Experience on Intertemporal Decisions

14 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2008  

Jennifer Aaker

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business

Wendy Liu

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management

Date Written: March 1, 2007

Abstract

In this research, we investigate the impact of significant life experiences on intertemporal decisions among young adults. A series of experiments focus specifically on the impact of experiencing the death of a close other by cancer. We show that such an experience, which bears information about time, is associated with making decisions that favor the long-term future over short-term interests (Studies 1 and 2). Underlying this effect appears to be increased salience and concreteness regarding one's future life course, shifting focus away from the present toward the long run (Studies 3 and 4). Finally, we explore the shift caused by a cancer death of a public figure and examine its stability over time (Study 5). Implications for research on intertemporal decision making and the impact of life events on perceptions and preferences are discussed.

Suggested Citation

Aaker, Jennifer and Liu, Wendy, Do You Look to the Future or Focus on Today? The Impact of Life Experience on Intertemporal Decisions (March 1, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1292547 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1292547

Jennifer Lynn Aaker (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Wendy Liu

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Rady School of Management
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

HOME PAGE: http://management.ucsd.edu/faculty/directory/wendy-liu/

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