Dueling with Desire: A Synthesis of Past Research on Want/Should Conflict

28 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2014 Last revised: 10 Jun 2014

T. Bradford Bitterly

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Robert Mislavsky

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Hengchen Dai

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School

Katherine L. Milkman

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Date Written: February 28, 2014

Abstract

In this chapter, we review and synthesize past research on want/should conflict. We begin with a formal definition of relative wants and shoulds and summarize prior work on the underlying cognitive processes that produce want/should conflict. We then describe empirical research on the levers that predictably tip the balance in favor of want versus should choices. In the final section of this chapter, we discuss a series of interventions that policymakers, organizations, and individuals can use to promote more future-oriented, should choices.

Keywords: Want/Should Conflict, Self-Regulation, Public Policy

JEL Classification: D90, I12

Suggested Citation

Bitterly, T. Bradford and Mislavsky, Robert and Dai, Hengchen and Milkman, Katherine L., Dueling with Desire: A Synthesis of Past Research on Want/Should Conflict (February 28, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2403021 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2403021

T. Bradford Bitterly (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

Robert Mislavsky

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

Hengchen Dai

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Katherine L. Milkman

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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