Peter Schwardmann, 02 August 2019

Despite all the evidence to the contrary we continue to overestimate how much work we will do tomorrow, or how often we will go to the gym. Why? Peter Schwardmann tells Tim Phillips that we do learn from experience about ourselves - in the right circumstances.

Yves Le Yaouanq, Peter Schwardmann, 10 June 2019

Naiveté about one’s lack of self-control can result in costly mistakes. In order to shed his or her naiveté, an individual needs to learn from his or her past lapses in self-control. This column examines whether people are able to draw the correct inferences from their past behaviour. It reports on experimental evidence that people learn well from their past effort on a task and are able to transport what they learn to new environments. However, they appear to underappreciate how much self-knowledge experience with a task will provide.

Laurens Cherchye, Bram De Rock, Rachel Griffith, Martin O'Connell, Kate Smith, Frederic Vermeulen, 22 January 2018

The impact of variation in diet quality across individuals on obesity and diet-related disease has received much attention, but variation in individuals’ diet quality over time less so. This column combines British data on food purchases with a model in which individual choice is driven by the influence of a healthy self and an unhealthy self to examine self-control problems in food choice. The results indicate that self-control problems in food purchases are important, and that the interaction of the mechanisms at play merits investigation.

Marco Battaglini, Carlos Díaz, Eleonora Patacchini, 29 January 2017

Peers and role models play a key role in the choices young people make. This column discusses research suggesting that students who are part of a social circle have more self-control than those who are alone, and the larger this social circle, the greater the self-control. However, having peers who are too similar can be detrimental to self-control.

Bart Golsteyn, Hans Grönqvist, Lena Lindahl, 19 August 2014

Time preference has substantial economic consequences. To a growing literature that shows patience to be an important indicator of economic outcomes, this column presents new evidence from a large administrative dataset that tracks children into adulthood. Those who reported more patient preferences as children move on to better labour market and health outcomes, and are less likely to become criminals.

Martin Kocher, Daniela Rützler, Matthias Sutter, Stefan Trautmann, 16 April 2012

According to recent research, children’s self-control is critical for their development. This column explores whether self-control can be taught – and whether governments should do the teaching.

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