Multiple Selves in Intertemporal Choice

21 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2010

See all articles by Julian C. Jamison

Julian C. Jamison

University of Exeter Business School - Department of Economics; World Bank eMBeD (Mind, Behavior, and Development); Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL); Innovations for Poverty Action

Jon Wegener

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: November 30, 2009

Abstract

We propose that individuals consider future versions of themselves to truly be separate persons, not simply as a convenient modeling device but in terms of actual brain systems and decision-making processes. Intertemporal choices are thus quite literally strategic interactions between multiple agents. Previous neuroscientific studies have found evidence that systems involved with Theory of Mind (that is, mentalizing other agents) are similar to those involved with prospection (imagining oneself in the future). We provide a conceptual framework for this work and suggest that, instead of prospection, a more analogous future task is one that concerns intertemporal choice and time preferences, since these involve implicit prediction of future actions. Recent functional imaging studies appear to confirm such a link. Additional studies -- behavioral, clinical, and neuroimaging -- are proposed in order to confirm the specific nature of the correspondence and to elucidate the underlying mechanisms. Finally, given that society may have a vested interest in promoting the welfare of future selves, we discuss possible policy implications of departing from the standard framework in which individuals act in their own best interests as defined over the entire lifetime.

Keywords: intertemporal choice, theory of mind, mentalizing, intrapersonal games, neuroeconomics

JEL Classification: D90, D87, D62, D03

Suggested Citation

Jamison, Julian C. and Wegener, Jon, Multiple Selves in Intertemporal Choice (November 30, 2009). FRB of Boston Working Paper No. 09-17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1559325 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1559325

Julian C. Jamison (Contact Author)

University of Exeter Business School - Department of Economics ( email )

Streatham Court
Exeter, EX4 4RJ
United Kingdom

World Bank eMBeD (Mind, Behavior, and Development) ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) ( email )

30 Wadsworth Street, E53-320
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Innovations for Poverty Action ( email )

1731 Connecticut Ave, 4th floor
New Haven, CT 20009
United States

Jon Wegener

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
74
Abstract Views
671
rank
331,221
PlumX Metrics