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Time and Decision: economic and psychological perspectives on intertemporal choice

Roy F Baumeister, George Loewenstein, Daniel Read (eds)
Russell Sage Foundation (1 March 2003)

How do people decide whether to sacrifice now for a future reward or to enjoy themselves in the present? Do the future gains of putting money in a pension fund outweigh going to Hawaii for New Year's Eve? Why does a person's self-discipline one day often give way to impulsive behavior the next? Time and Decision takes up these questions with a comprehensive collection of new research on intertemporal choice, examining how people face the problem of deciding over time.

Economists approach intertemporal choice by means of a model in which people discount the value of future events at a constant rate. A vacation two years from now is worth less to most people than a vacation next week. Psychologists, on the other hand, have focused on the cognitive and emotional underpinnings of intertemporal choice. This book draws from both disciplinary approaches to provide a comprehensive picture of the various layers of choice involved.

All of us make important decisions every day-many of which profoundly affect the quality of our lives. Time and Decision provides a fascinating look at the complex factors involved in how and why we make our choices, so many of them short-sighted, and helps us understand more precisely this crucial human frailty.

  • George Loewenstein is professor of economics and psychology, Department of Social and Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Daniel Read is reader in operational research, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Roy F Baumeister is the Eppes Professor of Psychology, Florida State University.