Behavioral economists, whose work combines the techniques and ideas of economics and psychology, have long focused on what Thomas Schelling, the 2005 Nobel laureate, called the 'intimate contest for self-command'--the all-too-familiar inner conflict between the would-be disciplined self...and the pleasure-seeking self....These two selves, Schelling noted, don't necessarily exist at the same time. The disciplined self imagines future virtues, while the pleasure-seeking self succumbs to present urges. 'If the person could make the final decision about that action at the earlier time, precluding a later change in mind,' Schelling wrote in 1983, 'he would make a different choice from what he knows will be his choice on that later occasion.'


Which is the real you: the present self who wants to stay in bed rather than exercise and who runs errands instead of visiting a museum, or the future you who wants to be fit and have happy memories? The you who avoids temptation by staying out of the mall, or the you who wishes you hadn't been such a hermit?

They are both real, of course. The intimate contest for self-command never ends, and lifetime happiness requires finding the right balance between present impulses and future well-being....

--Virginia Postrel, The Gift-Card Economy

No comments: