How the Perceived (Dis)Continuity of Identity Underlies Intertemporal Choice

Daniel M. Bartels, University of Chicago, USA
Oleg Urminsky, University of Chicago, USA
Lance J. Rips, Northwestern University, USA
We explore connectedness to the future self as an explanation of time preference (Parfit 1984): smaller immediate benefits may be more attractive when you are more closely connected psychologically to your tomorrow’s self than to the future self that would receive deferred benefits. We show that declining connectedness over time can explain discounting for one’s own choices. Likewise, monetary benefits for third-parties are timed to occur before they undergo symbolic changes to self-identity (rather than after). Furthermore, manipulating anticipation of change in connectedness impacts time preferences in three studies (e.g. when to receive gift cards, waiting for savings in purchasing).
[ to cite ]:
Daniel M. Bartels, Oleg Urminsky, and Lance J. Rips (2010) ,"How the Perceived (Dis)Continuity of Identity Underlies Intertemporal Choice", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 246-249 .