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Title: Understanding the Value of Reminders: The Cost of Keeping Track and its Impact on Temporal Discounting
Authors: Stewart, Melissa
Advisors: Haushofer, Johannes
Department: Psychology
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: In daily life, individuals must often keep track of intentions. The conse- quences of forgetting to complete these intentions can vary in their degree of severity. The experiment in this paper investigated the impact of the avail- ability of reminders on temporal discounting. In our treatment group, we told participants that they could receive extra money by sending an SMS and asked if they would prefer to send it in one week or in two weeks. If, and only if, they elected to send the SMS in two weeks, would they receive a reminder to send the SMS. We compared the treatment group to a control group that had no options for a reminder and found a 16 percentage point increase in the number of participants who chose two weeks over one week. Our results suggest that individuals discount the value of the reward less when there is a reminder in- cluded. We discuss how the existence of a cost of keeping track of intentions can explain the change in temporal discounting when a reminder is available. We additionally contextualize the results within the literature of time preferences and temporal discounting, the mechanisms involved in prospective memory, and the e ectiveness of reminders.
Extent: 64 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Psychology, 1930-2017

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