Why Do We Procrastinate? Present Bias and Optimism

90 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2019 Last revised: 31 Aug 2020

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)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 27, 2020

Abstract

Research has shown that procrastination has significant adverse effects on individuals, including lower savings and poorer health. Procrastination is typically modeled as resulting from present bias. In this paper we study an alternative: excessively optimistic beliefs about future demands on an individual’s time. The models can be distinguished by how individuals respond to information on their past choices. 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.

Keywords: discounting, beliefs, dynamic inconsistency, real effort

JEL Classification: D90, D84, D15, J22

Suggested Citation

Breig, Zachary and Gibson, Matthew and Shrader, Jeffrey, Why Do We Procrastinate? Present Bias and Optimism (August 27, 2020). 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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