Ego depletion : an economic model of self-control
Reddinger, Jonathan Lucas
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Philosophers, writers, and psychologists have studied and commented on the concept of willpower for thousands of years. Recently, behavioral economics has enjoyed a flurry of interest, and many economists have provided research-both theoretical and empirical-to bridge the gap between traditional microeconomics and contemporary evidence. Ego depletion is a relatively new view of self-control, demonstrated by psychologists in an experimental setting, that considers willpower to be a personal, renewable resource that is affected by an agent's actions. This paper proposes a fundamental framework that allows the phenomenon of ego depletion to coexist soundly with the traditional consumer microeconomic model. A formal generalized consumer model is proposed in which willpower is a depletable, renewable, unconstrained resource, and results are derived from specific cases. The conclusions are consistent with the theory of ego depletion, and many of the results illustrate the agent's optimal choices in a way that has not been previously presented.