Impatience as Intertemporal Egoism


We build on a philosophical account of personal identity (Parfit, 1984) which argues that the degree of concern one has for one’s future self may be scaled by the degree of “psychological connectedness”—overlap in properties such as beliefs, values, and ideals—held between one’s current and future self. We pose participants with tradeoffs between consuming a benefit in the near future versus consuming more of that benefit in the distant future. When people’s sense of connectedness with their future self is reduced, they make impatient choices.

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