CREED Seminars Amsterdam

Severine Tousseart (London School of Economics, United Kingdom)
Thursday, 1 June 2017

Unlike present-biased individuals, Gul and Pesendorfer (2001) agents may pay to restrict choice sets despite expecting to resist temptation, thus eliminating self-control costs. I design an experiment to identify these self-control types, where the temptation was to read a story during a tedious task. The identification strategy relies on a two-step procedure. First, I measure commitment demand by eliciting subjects’ preferences over menus, which did or did not allow access to the story. I then implement their preferences using a random mechanism, allowing me to observe subjects who faced the choice, yet preferred commitment. A quarter to a third of subjects can be classified as self-control types according to their preferences. Of those facing the choice, virtually all self-control types behaved as they anticipated and resisted temptation. These findings suggest that policies restricting the availability of tempting options could have much larger welfare benefits than predicted by present bias models.

Click here to read the paper.