Self Control and Intertemporal Choice: Evidence from Glucose and Depletion Interventions

51 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2014

See all articles by Michael Kuhn

Michael Kuhn

University of Oregon - Department of Economics

Peter Kuhn

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Marie Claire Villeval

Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), CNRS; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: January 31, 2014

Abstract

Recent developments in economic theory model intertemporal choice decisions as problems of restraining one’s natural impulse to consume today. We use interventions that have been shown in the psychology literature to affect impulse control to examine whether this is indeed the case for laboratory elicitations of time preference. In other words, is savings behavior affected by manipulations of willpower? Our results are mixed, with one widely used willpower-reducing intervention increasing subjects’ savings, and with evidence of a substantial placebo effects with respect to another intervention based on sugared beverage consumption. Since all our treatment effects – which are substantial in magnitude – are driven by increases in the intertemporal substitution elasticity (i.e. greater sensitivity to high prices), we suspect that the primary mechanism behind them is an increase in subjects’ attention to the decision, rather than their ability to resist the temptation to get money sooner.

Keywords: time preferences, self-control, depletion, sucrose, experiment

JEL Classification: C910, D900

Suggested Citation

Kuhn, Michael and Kuhn, Peter J. and Villeval, Marie Claire, Self Control and Intertemporal Choice: Evidence from Glucose and Depletion Interventions (January 31, 2014). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 4609. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2398279

Michael Kuhn

University of Oregon - Department of Economics ( email )

Eugene, OR 97403
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pages.uoregon.edu/mkuhn

Peter J. Kuhn (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics ( email )

North Hall 3036
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States
(805) 893-3666 (Phone)
(805) 893-8830 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Marie Claire Villeval

Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), CNRS ( email )

93, chemin des Mouilles
Ecully, 69130
France
+33 472 86 60 79 (Phone)
+33 472 86 60 90 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.gate.cnrs.fr/equipe/perso/villeval/villeval.html

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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