Sunday, January 3, 2010

Procrastination and "present-bias" in being time-inconsistent

Seaport: Claude Lorrain, 1638.Image via Wikipedia
The relation between procrastination and "present-bias" in being time-inconsistent - economics of procrastination of Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin.
Was thinking along the line of a round-robin circular-list policy of open projects.  Even if only apply 5 minutes of work to each, at least avoiding outright procrastination.  Also, the start of a more realistic assessment to true commitment to each project - the most can bring self to work on in the daily hustle and bustle.

Economics focus: New-year irresolution | The Economist: "In a 1999 paper on the economics of procrastination, Ted O’Donoghue and Matthew Rabin pointed out that people are often unrealistically optimistic about their own future likelihood of doing things—such as exercise or saving—that involve costs at the time they are done, but whose benefits lie even further ahead. Mr O’Donoghue and Mr Rabin showed that this sort of behaviour can be explained if people are time-inconsistent. “Present-biased” preferences mean that people will always tend to put off unpleasant things until tomorrow, even if the immediate cost involved is tiny. As long as they are unsure of the precise extent of this bias, they believe (incorrectly) that they will in fact “do it tomorrow”. But since they feel this way at each point in time, tomorrow never quite comes. Such a model can therefore explain endless procrastination.

Electrum coin from Lydia (VI century)Image via Wikipedia
"Doing it Now or Later", by Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin, American Economic Review, March 1999
"Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya", by Esther Duflo, Michael Kremer and Jonathan Robinson, NBER Working Paper 15131, July 2009

"Put Your Money Where Your Butt Is: A Commitment Contract for Smoking Cessation", by Xavier Gine, Dean Karlan and Jonathan Zinman, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4985, July 2009
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