Econometrica: Nov 2001, Volume 69, Issue 6

Temptation and Self‐Control

https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0262.00252
p. 1403-1435

Faruk Gul, Wolfgang Pesendorfer

We study a two‐period model where ex ante inferior choice may tempt the decision‐maker in the second period. Individuals have preferences over sets of alternatives that represent second period choices. Our axioms yield a representation that identifies the individual's commitment ranking, temptation ranking, and cost of self‐control. An agent has a preference for commitment if she strictly prefers a subset of alternatives to the set itself. An agent has self‐control if she resists temptation and chooses an option with higher ex ante utility. We introduce comparative measures of preference for commitment and self‐control and relate them to our representations.

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