ⓘ Commitment device. A commitment device is, according to journalist Stephen J. Dubner and economist Steven Levitt, a way to lock yourself into following a plan o ..


ⓘ Commitment device

A commitment device is, according to journalist Stephen J. Dubner and economist Steven Levitt, a way to lock yourself into following a plan of action that you might not want to do but you know is good for you. In other words, a commitment device is a way to give yourself a reward or punishment to make an empty promise stronger and believable.

A commitment device is a technique where someone makes it easier for themselves to avoid akrasia acting against ones better judgment, particularly procrastination.

Commitment devices have two major features. They are voluntarily adopted for use and they tie consequences to follow-through failures. Consequences can be immutable irreversible, such as a monetary consequence or mutable allows for the possibility of future reversal of the consequence.


1. Overview

The term "commitment device" is used in both economics and game theory. In particular, the concept is relevant to the fields of economics and especially the study of decision making Brocas, et al.

A common example comes from mythology: Odysseus plan to survive hearing the sirens song without jumping overboard. Economist Jodi Beggs writes "Commitment devices are a way to overcome the discrepancy between an individuals short-term and long-term preferences; in other words, they are a way for self-aware people to modify their incentives or set of possible choices in order to overcome impatience or other irrational behavior. You know the story of Ulysses tying himself to the mast so that he couldnt be lured in by the song of the Sirens? You can think of that as the quintessential commitment device" Beggs 2009.

Behavioral economist Daniel Goldstein describes how commitment devices established in "cold states" help and protect themselves against impulsive decisions in later, emotional, stimulated, "hot states". Goldstein says that, despite their usefulness, commitment devices nevertheless have drawbacks. Namely, they still rely on some self-control. Goldstein says that, for one, a commitment device can promote learned helplessness in the agent. If the agent enters a situation where the device does not incentivize commitment, the agent may not have enough will power or ability to control themselves. Goldstein uses the example of a cake falling into the grey area of a diet, so it is eaten excessively. Second, commitment devices can usually be reversed. An unplugged distracting electronic can be plugged back in.

Goldstein says "In effect you are like Odysseus and the first mate in one person. Youre binding yourself, and then youre weaseling your way out of it, and then youre beating yourself up for it afterwards."


2. Methods

  • Make your commitment public, so your reputation may be affected.
  • Create larger obstacles to temptations to increase the costs of temptations.
  • Make a bet or monetary contract with someone to increase the benefit of keeping your promise.

3. Challenges

It can be challenging to promote uptake of commitment devices. In the field of health, for example, commitment devices have the potential to increase patient adherence to their health goals, but utilization of these techniques is low. Health professionals can potentially increase patient uptake of commitment devices by increasing their accessibility, making policies opt-out, and leveraging patients’ social networks.


4. Other examples

Examples of commitment devices abound. Dubner and Levitt give the example of Han Xin, a general in Ancient China, who positioned his soldiers with their backs to a river, making it impossible for them to flee, thereby leaving them no choice but to attack the enemy head-on. They also present various commitment devices related to weight loss 2007. In addition, some game theorists have argued that human emotions and sense of honor are forms of commitment device Arslan 2011 & Ross and Dumouchel 2004. Other examples include announcing commitments publicly and mutually assured destruction Straker 2011, as well as software programs that block internet access for a predetermined period of time.

  • users to make commitment contracts in order to reach their personal goals. stickK users set up a commitment contract a commitment device where they agree
  • 31 May 2010. Airbus launches Sharklet large wingtip devices for A320 Family with commitment from Air New Zealand Airbus. 15 November 2009. Archived
  • The Iraq Commitment Medal is a military campaign award that was created on June 11, 2011 by the Government of Iraq. The Iraq Minister of Defense, Dr. Saadoun
  • Commitment Hour is a science fiction novel by Canadian writer James Alan Gardner, published in 1998. The novel is set in Gardner s League of Peoples s
  • The Kingsbury Commitment of 1913 was an out - of - court settlement of the government s antitrust challenge of AT T s growing vertical monopoly over the phone
  • not cheated either. Examples of tasks in mistrustful cryptography are commitment schemes and secure computations, the latter including the further examples
  • combine these devices into one unit. Nokia announced in November 2002 that they would develop the N - Gage, a device that integrated these two devices Its original
  • Electronic Device is the seventeenth album by Vancouver industrial band Front Line Assembly, released in 2010. Improvised Electronic Device was first released
  • commitments are studies or clinical trials that a sponsor has agreed to conduct, but that are not required by a statue or regulation. Medical device reporting
  • Genasys Inc. is based in San Diego, California. Its Long Range Acoustic Device LRAD products are used for long range acoustic hailing and mass notification
  • Finland, it was established in 2014 following the acquisition of Nokia s Devices and Services division by Microsoft in a deal valued at 5.4 billion, which