NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Emre Ozdenoren

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Working Papers

June 2006Willpower and the Optimal Control of Visceral Urges
with Stephen Salant, Dan Silverman: w12278
Common intuition and experimental psychology suggest that the ability to self-regulate, willpower, is a depletable resource. We investigate the behavior of an agent who optimally consumes a cake (or paycheck or workload) over time and who recognizes that restraining his consumption too much would exhaust his willpower and leave him unable to manage his consumption. Unlike prior models of self-control, a model with willpower depletion can explain the increasing consumption sequences observable in high frequency data (and corresponding laboratory findings), the apparent links between unrelated self-control behaviors, and the altered economic behavior following imposition of cognitive loads. At the same time, willpower depletion provides an alternative explanation for a taste for commitment, ...
February 2006Durable Goods and Conformity
with Christopher L. House: w12028
Is the variety of products supplied in markets a reflection of the diversity of consumers' preferences? In this paper, we argue that the distribution of durable goods offered in markets tends to be compressed relative to the distribution of consumers' underlying preferences. In particular, there are strong incentives for conformity in markets for durable goods. The reason for conformity is natural: durables (for example houses) are traded and as a result, demand for these goods is influenced by their resale value. Agents may like one product, but purchase another because of resale concerns. We show that (1) there is a tendency to conform to the average preference; (2) conformity depends primarily on the number of people with extreme preferences; (3) conformity increases with increases in d...

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