Future Lock-In: Future Implementation Increases Selection of 'Should' Choices

63 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2007  

Todd Rogers

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Max H. Bazerman

Harvard Business School - Negotiations, Organizations and Markets Unit

Date Written: August 2007

Abstract

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

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

Todd Rogers (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Max H. Bazerman

Harvard Business School - Negotiations, Organizations and Markets Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6429 (Phone)
617-496-4191 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.hbs.edu/mbazerman

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