Commitment Devices

Gharad Bryan, Dean Karlan and Scott Nelson of Yale University explored the notion of the ‘committment device’ saying: “Broadly, a commitment device is an arrangement entered into by an individual with the aim of helping fulfill a plan for future behavior that would otherwise be difficult due to intra-personal conflict.” American  journalist Stephen Dubner and economist  Steven Levitt of  the University of Chicago define it as “a means with which to lock yourself into a course of action that you might not otherwise choose but that produces a desired result.”

A commitment device might be arranged for you, for example a general could drop the troops on a beach then remove the landing craft.  If you happen to be a trooper, you are suddenly committed to fight or die.  Often commitment devices are arranged between individuals.  For example,  you could announce your plan to your friends with the notion that having these eyes on you would motivate you to follow through.  Sometimes a commitment device can be completely personal, like establishing a goal associated with a reward.  Here are some examples of commitment devices that could help you get outdoors more:

If you are having trouble committing to outdoor activities, you might see if you can come up with a commitment  device that works for you.

One Response to “Commitment Devices”

  1. Yarina says:

    Great advice! It’s fascinating what our brains can do by simply creating a rule of this kind. Such challenges seemed silly to me, but when I actually decided to follow one, I realized how much they can help to change our behavior.

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