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Stern, Novak, Harlow, and colleagues say compensation due Californians forcibly sterilized under eugenics laws

Burgard and Seelye find job insecurity linked to psychological distress among workers in later years

Former PSC trainee Jay Borchert parlays past incarceration and doctoral degree into pursuing better treatment of inmates

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Savolainen wins Outstanding Contribution Award for study of how employment affects recidivism among past criminal offenders

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PRB Policy Communication Training Program for PhD students in demography, reproductive health, population health

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Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at noon:
H. Luke Shaefer

Willpower and the Optimal Control of Visceral Urges

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Ozdenoren, Emre, Stephen Salant, and Daniel Silverman. 2006. "Willpower and the Optimal Control of Visceral Urges." NBER Working Paper 12278National Bureau of Economic Research.

Common intuition and experimental psychology suggest that the ability to self-regulate, willpower, is a depletable resource. We investigate the behavior of an agent who optimally consumes a cake (or paycheck or workload) over time and who recognizes that restraining his consumption too much would exhaust his willpower and leave him unable to manage his consumption. Unlike prior models of self-control, a model with willpower depletion can explain the increasing consumption sequences observable in high frequency data (and corresponding laboratory findings), the apparent links between unrelated self-control behaviors, and the altered economic behavior following imposition of cognitive loads. At the same time, willpower depletion provides an alternative explanation for a taste for commitment, intertemporal preference reversals, and procrastination. Accounting for willpower depletion thus provides a more unified theory of time preference. It also provides an explanation for anomalous intratemporal behaviors such as low correlations between health-related activities.

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