Pure hyperbolic discount curves predict “eyes open” self-control
- 594 Downloads
The models of internal self-control that have recently been proposed by behavioral economists do not depict motivational interaction that occurs while temptation is present. Those models that include willpower at all either envision a faculty with a motivation (“strength”) different from the motives that are weighed in the marketplace of choice, or rely on incompatible goals among diverse brain centers. Both assumptions are questionable, but these models’ biggest problem is that they do not let resolutions withstand re-examination while being challenged by impulsive alternatives. The economists’ models all attempt to make a single equilibrium preference predictable from a person’s prior incentives. This was the original purpose of these models’ hyperboloid (“β–δ”) delay discount functions, which have been widely justified by the assumption that a person’s intertemporal inconsistency (impulsiveness) can be accounted for by the arousal of appetite for visceral rewards. Although arousal is clearly a factor in some cases of intertemporal inconsistency, it cannot be blamed for others, and furthermore does not necessarily imply hyperboloid discounting. The inadequacy of β–δ functions is particularly evident in models of internal self-control. I have reviewed several of these models, and have argued for a return to pure hyperbolic discount function as originally proposed, the relatively high tails of which can motivate a recursive process of self-prediction and thereby the formation of self-enforcing intertemporal contracts. Such a process does not require a separately motivated faculty of will, or incompatible goals among brain centers; but it also does not permit the prediction of unique preferences from prior incentives.
KeywordsHyperbolic delay discounting Intertemporal inconsistency Self-control Strength of will Intertemporal bargaining Visceral reward Self as population Economic models
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Ainslie G. (1991) Derivation of “rational” economic behavior from hyperbolic discount curves. American Economic Review 81: 334–340Google Scholar
- Ainslie G. (1992) Picoeconomics: The strategic interaction of successive motivational states within the person. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Ainslie G. (2001) Breakdown of will. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Ainslie G. (2007) Can thought experiments prove anything about the will?. In: Spurrett D., Ross D., Kincaid H., Stephens L. (eds) Distributed cognition and the will: Individual volition and social context. MIT, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Ainslie G. (2010a) Procrastination, the basic impulse. In: Andreou C., White M. (eds) The thief of time: Philosophical essays on procrastination. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 11–27Google Scholar
- Ainslie G. (2010b) Hyperbolic discounting versus conditioning and framing as the core process in addictions and other impulses. In: Ross D., Kincaid H., Spurrett D., Collins P. (eds) What is addiction?. MIT, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Ainslie G. (2011) “Free will” as recursive self-prediction: Does a deterministic mechanism reduce responsibility?. In: Poland J., Graham G. (eds) Addiction and responsibility. MIT, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Ainslie G., Haendel V. (1983) The motives of the will. In: Gottheil E., Druley K., Skodola T., Waxman H. (eds) Etiology aspects of alcohol and drug abuse. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, pp 119–140Google Scholar
- Bechara A. (2006) Broken willpower: Impaired mechanisms of decision-making and impulse control in substance abusers. In: Sebanz N., Prinz W. (eds) Disorders of volition. MIT, Cambridge, pp 399–418Google Scholar
- Berns G. S., Laibson D., Loewenstein G. (2007) Intertemporal choice: Toward an integrative framework. Neuroeconomics 11: 482–488Google Scholar
- Bodner, R., & Prelec, D. (1997). The diagnostic value of actions in a self-signaling model. Paper delivered at the Norwegian Research Council Working Group on addiction, Oslo, Norway, May 26, 1995, MIT working paper.Google Scholar
- Bodner R., Prelec D. (2001) The diagnostic value of actions in a self-signaling model. In: Brocas I., Carillo J. D. (eds) Collected essays in Psychology and economics. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Coller, M., Harrison, G. W., & Rutström, E. E. (2010). Latent process heterogeneity in discounting behavior. Oxford economic papers.Google Scholar
- Cropper M. L., Aydede S. K., Portney P. R. (1992) Rates of time preference for saving lives. American Economic Review 82: 469–472Google Scholar
- Deluty M. Z., Whitehouse W. G., Millitz M., Hineline P. (1983) Self-control and commitment involving aversive events. Behavioral Analysis Letters 3: 213–219Google Scholar
- Elster J. (1979) Ulysses and the Sirens: Studies in rationality and irrationality. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Freud, S. (1915/1956). The unconscious. In J. Strachey & A. Freud (Eds.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 14, pp. 161–215). London: Hogarth Press.Google Scholar
- Fudenberg, D., & Levine, D. (2010). Timing and self-control. Working paper.Google Scholar
- Garvey, A. J., Kinnunen, T., Quiles, Z. N., & Vokonas, P. S. (2002). Smoking cessation patterns in adult males followed for 35 years. Poster presented at the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco Annual Meetings, Savannah, GA. http://www.hsdm.harvard.edu/pdf-files/Dr._Garvey.pdf.
- Green L., Fisher E. B. Jr., Perlow S., Sherman L. (1981) Preference reversal and self-control: Choice as a function of reward amount and delay. Behavior Analysis Letters 1: 43–51Google Scholar
- Hanson C. (2009) Thinking about addiction: Hyperbolic discounting and responsible agency. Rodopi, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Helzer J. E., Burnham A., McEvoy L. T. (1991) Alcohol abuse and dependence. In: Robins L. N., Regier D. A. (eds) Psychiatric disorders in America: The epidemiologic catchment area study. Free Press, New York, pp 81–115Google Scholar
- Herrnstein, R. J. (1997). In H. Rachlin & D. I. Laibson (Eds.), The matching law: Papers in psychology and economics. New York: Sage.Google Scholar
- Heyman M. G. (2009) Addiction: A disorder of choice. Harvard University Press, HarvardGoogle Scholar
- Hsiaw, A. (2009). Goal-setting, social comparison and self-control. Retrieved January 25, 2010, from Princeton University, Department of Economics website: https://www.princeton.edu/economics/seminar-schedule-by-prog/behavioral-f09/Hsiaw-Paper.pdf .Google Scholar
- Koopmans T. C. (1960) Stationary ordinal utility and impatience. Econometrica 47: 263–291Google Scholar
- Laibson, D. (1994). Hyperbolic discounting and consumption. PhD thesis, MIT.Google Scholar
- Loewenstein G. F. (1999) A visceral account of addiction. In: Elster J., Skog O.-J. (eds) Getting hooked: Rationality and addiction. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Loewenstein, G. F., & O’Donoghue, T. (2004). Animal spirits: Affective and deliberative processes in economic behavior. CAE working paper #0414. http://ssrn.com/abstract=539843.
- Loewenstein, G. F., & O’Donoghue, T. (2007). The heat of the moment: Modeling interactions between affect and deliberation. http://www.cramton.umd.edu/workshop/papers/loewenstein-odonoghue-heat-of-the-moment.pdf.
- Marshall A. (1921) Industry and trade. Macmillan, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Mazur J. E. (1987) An adjusting procedure for studying delayed reinforcement. In: Commons M. L., Mazur J. E., Nevin J. A., Rachlin H. (eds) Quantitative analyses of behavior V: The effect of delay and of intervening events on reinforcement value. Erlbaum, HillsdaleGoogle Scholar
- Musau, A. (2009). Modeling alternatives to exponential discounting. Munich Personal Repec Archive (MPRA) paper no. 16416, June 2. http://mpra.ub.unimuenschen.de/16416/.
- Pine A., Shiner T., Seymour B., Dolan R. (2010) Dopamine, time, and impulsivity in humans. The Journal of Behavioral Neuroscience 30(26): 8888–8896Google Scholar
- Rachlin, H. (2005). Problems with internalization. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28(5), 658–659.Google Scholar
- Schelling T. C. (1980) The intimate contest for self-command. The Public Interest 60: 94–118Google Scholar
- Strotz R. H. (1956) Myopia and inconsistency in dynamic utility maximization. Review of Economic Studies 23: 166–180Google Scholar