Article

A theory of self-control and naïveté: The blights of willpower and blessings of temptation

Citation

Myrseth KOR & Wollbrant CE (2013) A theory of self-control and naïveté: The blights of willpower and blessings of temptation. Journal of Economic Psychology, 34, pp. 8-19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joep.2012.11.003

Abstract
We model self-control conflict as an agent's stochastic struggle against a visceral influence that impels the agent to act sub-optimally. The agent holds costly pre-commitment technology to avoid the conflict altogether and may decide whether to procure pre-commitment or to confront the visceral influence. We examine naïve expectations for the strength of the visceral influence; naïve expectations lead the agent to exaggerate the expected utility of resisting temptation and so mistakenly forego pre-commitment. Contrary to accepted wisdom, our analysis reveals conditions under which higher will-power—and lower visceral influence—reduces welfare. Our analysis, therefore, calls into question policy measures that influence willpower and visceral influences.

Keywords
Self-control; Temptation; Inter-temporal choice; Pre-commitment

Journal
Journal of Economic Psychology: Volume 34

StatusPublished
FundersSwedish Research Council
Publication date28/02/2013
Publication date online30/11/2012
Date accepted by journal17/11/2012
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/29101
PublisherElsevier BV
ISSN0167-4870