Happiness when Temptation Overwhelms Willpower

We propose the economics of happiness2 as an alternative approach to study phenomena where temptation might overwhelm willpower

Alois Stutzer

2013

Scholarcy highlights

  • Saint Anthony of Egypt was tempted by the devil, who appeared in the guise of a monk offering Anthony bread while he was fasting
  • The economics of happiness is applied to further the understanding of important consumption decisions in which limited willpower is often argued to lead to suboptimal choices
  • It is found that people who report that health is not a relevant issue for them are statistically significantly more likely to be obese than people who report that health is either limited willpower
  • To what extent do the consequences of obesity due to limited willpower reduce subjective well-being and to what extent does the experience of reduced well-being lead to stress/frustration eating and obesity? This is a valid concern, even though based on the approach proposed in this paper the correlation between obesity and subjective well-being is not interpreted as such, but rather the differential effect for people with full and limited self-control
  • Standard economic theory assumes that individuals do not commit any systematic errors in their consumption decisions, because they know their own preferences best and are able to make and implement the consequent choices
  • It is very likely that individuals are quite capable of making satisfactory consumption decisions for most of the goods most of the time

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