Hyperopia: a Theory of Reverse Self Control

Ran Kivetz, Columbia University, USA
Anat Keinan, Harvard University, USA
The literature on self-control assumes that people are short-sighted (myopic) and easily tempted by hedonic “sins.” This paper proposes that people often suffer from a reverse self-control problem, namely excessive farsightedness or “hyperopia.” Empirical evidence regarding the antecedents and consequences of hyperopia is synthesized, including the findings that people (a) require special entitlement justifications to indulge; (b) perceive themselves as suffering from insufficient indulgence, and consequently, pre-commit to future hedonic experiences; and (c) regret (in the long-run) choosing virtue over vice. New direct evidence for hyperopia demonstrates that people select pleasurable vices when the consequences of their decisions are psychologically distal (e.g., temporally delayed, hypothetical, improbable, abstract, or self-irrelevant) but reverse their decision when the consequences are psychologically proximal (e.g., temporally imminent, real, vivid, or self-relevant).
[ to cite ]:
Ran Kivetz and Anat Keinan (2009) ,"Hyperopia: a Theory of Reverse Self Control", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 97-99.