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Naiveté, projection bias, and habit formation in gym attendance

Acland, Dan and Levy, Matthew R. (2015) Naiveté, projection bias, and habit formation in gym attendance. Management Science, 61 (1). pp. 146-160. ISSN 0025-1909

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Identification Number: 10.1287/mnsc.2014.2091


We implement a gym-attendance incentive intervention and elicit subjects' predictions of their postintervention attendance. We find that subjects greatly overpredict future attendance, which we interpret as evidence of partial naiveté with respect to present bias. We find a significant postintervention attendance increase, which we interpret as habit formation, and which subjects appear not to predict ex ante. These results are consistent with a model of projection bias with respect to habit formation. Neither the intervention incentives, nor the small posttreatment incentives involved in our elicitation mechanism, appear to crowd out existing intrinsic motivation. The combination of naiveté and projection bias in gym attendance can help to explain limited take-up of commitment devices by dynamically inconsistent agents, and points to new forms of contracts. Alternative explanations of our results are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 INFORMS
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Sets: Departments > Economics
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2016 11:21
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2020 02:04

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