Article | Perspectives on Psychological Science | July 2008

Harnessing Our Inner Angels and Demons: What We Have Learned About Want/Should Conflicts and How That Knowledge Can Help Us Reduce Short-Sighted Decision Making

by Katherine L. Milkman, Todd Rogers and Max Bazerman

Abstract

Although observers of human behavior have long been aware that people regularly struggle with internal conflict when deciding whether to behave responsibly or indulge in impulsivity, psychologists and economists did not begin to empirically investigate this type of want/should conflict until recently. In this paper, we review and synthesize the latest research on want/should conflict, focusing our attention on the findings from an empirical literature on the topic that has blossomed over the last 15 years. We then turn to a discussion of how individuals and policy makers can use what has been learned about want/should conflict to help decision makers select far-sighted options.

Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Ethics; Policy; Behavior; Conflict and Resolution;

Citation:

Milkman, Katherine L., Todd Rogers, and Max Bazerman. "Harnessing Our Inner Angels and Demons: What We Have Learned About Want/Should Conflicts and How That Knowledge Can Help Us Reduce Short-Sighted Decision Making." Perspectives on Psychological Science 3, no. 4 (July 2008).