Asymmetric Naïveté: Beliefs about Self-Control

Abstract:

Do individuals anticipate present bias in others? This paper jointly investigates beliefs about one's own and others' present bias in two settings. First, in a classroom survey, students systematically underestimate how late they will turn in an assignment, but hold significantly more accurate beliefs about their classmates. Second, in an online experiment, participants engaged in a real-effort task display little awareness of their own present bias, but anticipate present bias in others. Structurally, I estimate a present bias parameter β of 0.82. Participants perceive others' β to be 0.87, indicating substantial sophistication, contrasted with 1.03 for themselves, indicating full naivete.