Deadlines and cognitive limitations / Steffen Altmann (University of Copenhagen and IZA), Christian Traxler (Hertie School of Governance, MPI for Research on Collective Goods, and CESifo), Philipp Weinschenk (University of Kaiserslautern and MPI for Research on Collective Goods) ; IZA Institute of Labor Economics
VerfasserAltmann, Steffen ; Traxler, Christian ; Weinschenk, Philipp
KörperschaftForschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit
ErschienenBonn, Germany : IZA Institute of Labor Economics, November 2017
Elektronische Ressource
Umfang1 Online-Ressource (65 Seiten) : Illustrationen, Diagramme
SerieDiscussion paper ; no. 11129
 Das Dokument ist öffentlich zugänglich im Rahmen des deutschen Urheberrechts.
Deadlines and cognitive limitations [1.2 mb]
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This paper studies the interplay between deadlines and cognitive limitations. We analyze an agent's decision to complete a one-off task under a deadline. Postponing the task can be beneficial for the agent; missing the deadline, however, leads to a drop in the agent's rewards. If the agent exhibits cognitive limitations, postponing increases the risk of becoming inattentive and failing to complete the task in time. Our framework provides a rich set of predictions on the behavioral implications of deadlines. We test these predictions in a field experiment at a dental clinic, in which we exogenously vary deadlines and rewards for arranging check-up appointments. The empirical results underline the behavioral relevance of cognitive limitations. Imposing relatively tight deadlines induces patients to act earlier and at a persistently higher frequency than without a deadline. Evidence from a follow-up experiment and complementary surveys supports the notion that deadlines may serve as a powerful instrument when individuals' cognitive capacity is limited.