Why Do We Procrastinate? Present Bias and Optimism

49 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2019

See all articles by Zachary Breig

Zachary Breig

University of Queensland - School of Economics

Matthew Gibson

Williams College

Jeffrey Shrader

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA)

Date Written: February 15, 2019

Abstract

A large body of research has shown that procrastination can have significant adverse effects on individuals, including lower savings and poorer health. Such procrastination is typically modeled as the result of present bias. In this paper we study an alternative: excessively optimistic beliefs about future demands on an individual’s time. Our experimental results refute the hypothesis that present bias is the sole source of dynamic inconsistency, but they are consistent with optimism. These findings offer an explanation for low takeup of commitment and suggest that personalized information on past choices can mitigate procrastination.

JEL Classification: D90, D84, D15, J22

Suggested Citation

Breig, Zachary and Gibson, Matthew and Shrader, Jeffrey, Why Do We Procrastinate? Present Bias and Optimism (February 15, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3445511 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3445511

Zachary Breig

University of Queensland - School of Economics ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

Matthew Gibson

Williams College

Williamstown, MA 01267
United States

Jeffrey Shrader (Contact Author)

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA) ( email )

420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jeffreyshrader.com

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