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Why Do We Procrastinate? Present Bias and Optimism

Zachary Breig (), Matthew Gibson () and Jeffrey Shrader
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Zachary Breig: University of Queensland

No 13060, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Abstract: Research has shown that procrastination has signicant adverse effects on individuals, including lower savings and poorer health. Procrastination is typically modeled as resulting from present bias. In this paper we study an alternative: excessively optimistic beliefs about future demands on an individual's time. The models can be distinguished by how individuals respond to information on their past choices. Experimental results refute the hypothesis that present bias is the sole source of dynamic inconsistency, but they are consistent with optimism. These findings offer an explanation for low takeup of commitment and suggest that personalized information on past choices can mitigate procrastination.

Keywords: discounting; beliefs; dynamic inconsistency; real effort (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D90 D84 D15 J22 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 61 pages
Date: 2020-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-evo, nep-exp and nep-hea
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