Present Bias and Everyday Self-Control Failures: A Day Reconstruction Study



Delaney L & Lades LK (2017) Present Bias and Everyday Self-Control Failures: A Day Reconstruction Study. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 30 (5), pp. 1157-1167.

Everyday life is full of self-control problems. The economist's favorite explanation for self-control problems is present bias. This paper tests whether experimentally elicited present bias predicts self-control problems in everyday life. We measure present bias by using a standard incentivized delay discounting task and everyday self-control by using the day reconstruction method (DRM). Because this is the first study to measure everyday self-control by using the DRM, we also validate the method by showing that its data replicate key results from the seminal Everyday Temptation Study. We find that present bias does not predict everyday self-control. This points to a distinction between decreasing impatience (as measured in delay discounting tasks) and visceral influences (as occurring in everyday life) as determinants of self-control problems. We argue that decision making research can benefit from the DRM as a cost-effective tool that complements lab and field experiments to better understand economic preference measures and their correlates in everyday life decision making.

day reconstruction method; subjective preferences; self-control; present bias; time preferences

Journal of Behavioral Decision Making: Volume 30, Issue 5

FundersScottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE)
Publication date31/12/2017
Publication date online22/08/2017
Date accepted by journal27/06/2017