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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: School of Economics, The University of Queensland

No 2019-15, Department of Economics Working Papers from Department of Economics, Williams College

Abstract: A large body of research has shown that procrastination can have significant adverse effects on individuals, including lower savings and poorer health. Such procrastination is typically modeled as the result of present bias. In this paper we study an alternative: excessively optimistic beliefs about future demands on an individual’s time. Our 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.

JEL-codes: D90 D84 D15 J22 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 49 pages
Date: 2019-02
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-evo and nep-exp
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