Experimental and Non-Experimental Evidence on Limited Attention and Present Bias at the Gym
59 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2018 Last revised: 9 Jan 2019
Date Written: October 1, 2018
We show that limited attention and present bias contribute to low levels of exercise. First, in
a large randomized experiment, we find that email reminders increase gym visits by 13 % and
that they benefit nearly all types of individuals. Limited attention can explain these effects.
Second, using a novel dataset, we find that many bookings for gym classes are canceled, and that bookings are made even for classes that never have a waiting list. Comparing these findings to the predictions of a dynamic discrete choice model, we conclude that many gym members use
bookings to commit themselves to future attendance.
Keywords: health behavior, randomized experiment, reminders, nudging, habit formation, limited attention, time inconsistency
JEL Classification: C93, D91, I12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation