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Performance of procrastinators: on the value of deadlines

Abstract

Earlier study has shown that procrastination can be explained by quasi-hyperbolic discounting. We present a model of effort choice over time that shifts the focus from completion of to performance on a single task. We find that being aware of the own self-control problems may reduce a person’s performance as well as his or her overall well-being, which is in contrast to the existing literature on procrastination. Extending this framework to a multi-task model, we show that interim deadlines help a quasi-hyperbolic discounter to structure his or her workload more efficiently, which in turn leads to better performance. Moreover, being restricted by deadlines increases a quasi-hyperbolic discounter’s well-being. Thus, we provide a theoretical underpinning for recent empirical evidence and numerous casual observations.

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Correspondence to Fabian Herweg.

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Herweg, F., Müller, D. Performance of procrastinators: on the value of deadlines. Theory Decis 70, 329–366 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11238-010-9195-6

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Keywords

  • Effort choice
  • Deadlines
  • (Quasi-) Hyperbolic discounting
  • Naiveté
  • Present-biased preferences
  • Sophistication

JEL Classification

  • A12
  • D11