The Special Fragility of Time: Time-Insensitivity and Valuation of Near and Far Future

Jane E. J. Ebert, University of Minnesota
Drazen Prelec, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Consumers and managers often decide among options available at different future times. We propose that the temporal dimension is fragile, in that choices are insufficiently sensitive to the temporal dimension and such sensitivity as exists is exceptionally malleable, unlike for other dimensions such as money, which are attended by default. We develop a discount function that separates impatience from time-sensitivity, and in four studies we selectively manipulate time-sensitivity, where increased time-sensitivity results in less discounting in the near future and more discounting in the far future. In contrast, in two studies identical manipulations have little effect on the money dimension, irrespective of whether money or time is initially the most influential dimension.
[ to cite ]:
Jane E. J. Ebert and Drazen Prelec (2008) ,"The Special Fragility of Time: Time-Insensitivity and Valuation of Near and Far Future", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 154-156.