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Behavioural science

The economics of impatience

In experiments, animals often prefer smaller, immediate rewards over larger rewards that are deferred — thus failing to maximize their total gain. Many people exhibit similar behaviour.

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Figure 1: Ulysses resists the Sirens' call by being bound to the mast of his ship, the ears of his crew having been blocked with beeswax (to see this image view PDF) .



  1. * Nobel Symposium on Experimental and Behavioural Economics, Saltsjöbaden, Sweden, 4–6 December 2001.


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Correspondence to Ernst Fehr.

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Fehr, E. The economics of impatience. Nature 415, 269–272 (2002).

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