Theory-Experimental Seminar

Séverine Toussaert

London School of Economics

4-Jun-2018

Seminar 3 – 14:30

Abstract

In the context of a weight loss challenge, I use the menu choice approach of Gul and Pesendorfer (2001) to provide new insights on the link between commitment demand and self-control problems. First, I study commitment demand to eat healthy by eliciting participants’ preferences over a set of lunch reimbursement options, which differed in their food coverage. Using information on the entire ordering, I develop menu preference measures of temptation and validate them with survey data. Finally, I investigate whether temptation revealed through menu choice can predict self-control problems in an other domain: commitment to self-set goals pertaining to exercise and participation in the challenge. I find strong evidence of a demand for commitment driven by temptation. First, close to 50% of participants strictly preferred a coverage that excludes the foods they rated as most tempting and unhealthy. Second, temptation revealed through menu choice not only predicts a higher likelihood of commitment to self-set goals but also a lower likelihood of achieving them. The elicitation of menu preferences therefore offers a promising venue for measuring self-control problems.

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