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Unfinished business: a multicommodity intertemporal planner–doer framework

Hersh Shefrin

Review of Behavioral Finance, 2020, vol. 12, issue 1, 35-68

Abstract: Purpose - There was unfinished business to address in the version of the planner–doer model developed in Thaler and Shefrin (1981). The unfinished business involved identifying and modeling the crucial roles played by temptation and mental accounting in pensions and savings behavior. The present paper has two objectives. Design/methodology/approach - The first objective is to describe the key lessons learned in transitioning from the model in Thaler and Shefrin (1981) to the model in Shefrin and Thaler (1988), a transition which addressed some of the unfinished business. The second objective is to describe as yet unfinished business associated with developing a multicommodity, intertemporal version of the planner–doer framework, incorporating the concepts of temptation and mental accounting, to replace the neoclassical theory of the consumer. Findings - Doing so will provide a theoretical foundation for nudges related to household budgeting, spending, saving, borrowing and investing. Originality/value - This paper presents the first behavioral theory of the consumer, focusing on the manner in which consumers actually make decisions about budgeting, spending. borrowing and saving. The approach in the paper can be viewed as a behavioral counterpart to the neoclassical theory of the consumer. In contrast to the neoclassical approach, which assumes that consumers set and follow utility maximizing budgets, the empirical evidence indicates that only a small minority of consumers describe themselves as setting and following budgets. The behavioral theory presented here focuses on the heuristic nature of consumers' actual budgeting processes and extends the approach described in Thaler and Shefrin's 1981 seminal paper on self-control. The core of the present paper is a working paper which Shefrin and Thaler began in 1980, and as such represents unfinished business from that time. The first part of this paper describes earlier unfinished business from the 1981 framework that the authors subsequently addressed as they developed the behavioral life cycle hypothesis during the 1980s.

Keywords: Self-control; Planner; Doer; Temptation; Rules; Mental accounting; Hedonic editing; A10; B3; D14; D9; G4 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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