Preferences for Effort and Their Applications
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In this dissertation, we experimentally examine individual preferences of effort, including time and risk preferences. In Chapter 3, we find that at least in certain settings and mindsets, individuals are very patient in their time preferences for effort, choosing to distribute effort evenly over time periods. However, they do not always live up to the stated plans, suggesting dynamic inconsistency or possibly two separate decision-making systems in the mind. This relates to our model in Chapter 2: a dual-self model of allocating effort between time periods in working toward a larger goal including incomplete information between different mindsets in the same person. Chapter 4 examines the risk preferences for effort, as a measurement of the utility function of effort, and finds that in this setting, subjects are very risk-averse over effort, compared to their preferences over money: they greatly avoid the possibility of having to complete a large number of tasks. These experiments and model help provide an understanding of how individuals allocate the scarce resource of time and energy to tasks they must complete.