63 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2007
Date Written: August 2007
People often experience tension over certain choices (e.g., they should reduce their gas consumption or increase their savings, but they do not want to). Some posit that this tension arises from the competing interests of a deliberative should self and an affective want self. We show that people are more likely to select choices that serve the should self (should-choices) when the choices will be implemented in the distant rather than the near future. This future lock-in is demonstrated in four experiments for should-choices involving donation, public policy, and self-improvement. Additionally, we show that future lock-in can arise without changing the structure of a should-choice, but by just changing people's temporal focus. Finally, we provide evidence that the should self operates at a higher construal level (abstract, superordinate) than the want self, and that this difference in construal partly underlies future lock-in.
Keywords: Decision-making, construal level theory, wise policy, intertemporal choice, want/should conflict, multiple selves
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Rogers, Todd and Bazerman, Max H., Future Lock-In: Future Implementation Increases Selection of 'Should' Choices (August 2007). Harvard PON Working Paper No. 983148; Harvard NOM Working Paper No. 07-038. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=983148 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.983148