commitment mechanisms: putting money where your mouth is

A few weeks ago I blogged about commitment devices and my own efforts to limit my television consumption while traveling. 

Today I read an interesting post from Ian Ayres at the Freakonomics blog about using public commitments and financial penalties to lose weight (or do whatever else you want to do but have trouble doing).

4 thoughts on “commitment mechanisms: putting money where your mouth is”

  1. Isn’t this supposed to not work (paying, as a motivation), according to Tyler Cowen you mentioned below? Very interesting. Maybe it works if the stakes are high enough?

  2. Cowen argues that he doesn’t believe it will work – he is quoted as such in the linked Freakonomics post. But Dean Karlan – who has done a lot of work on commitment devices – is behind it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a significant segment of the population for whom this were effective. Especially, as you say, once the stakes are high enough.

  3. I don’t think it’s a matter of proved or disproved at this point. My guess is that Cowen didn’t _prove_ it in Inner Economist but rather made an argument (I haven’t read it though, so obviously you’d know better than I). Ayres and Karlan believe that it should work and claim some positive early results. I’ll be interested to see how it all plays out.

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