Journal Article | Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes | May 2008

Future Lock-in: Future Implementation Increases Selection of 'Should' Choices

by Todd Rogers and Max Bazerman

Abstract

People often experience tension over certain choices (e.g., they should reduce their gas consumption or increase their savings, but they do not want to). Some posit that this tension arises from the competing interests of a deliberative “should” self and an affective “want” self. We show that people are more likely to select choices that serve the should self (should-choices) when the choices will be implemented in the distant rather than the near previous future. This “future lock-in” is demonstrated in four experiments for should-choices involving donation, public policy, and self-improvement. Additionally, we show that previous future lock term-in can arise without changing the structure of a should-choice, but by just changing people's temporal focus. Finally, we provide evidence that they should self operates at a higher construal level (abstract, superordinate) than the want self, and that this difference in construal partly underlies previous future lock-in.

Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Research; Behavior; Conflict of Interests;

Citation:

Rogers, Todd, and Max Bazerman. "Future Lock-in: Future Implementation Increases Selection of 'Should' Choices." Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 106, no. 1 (May 2008): 1–20.