Precommitment – the dressing down edition

When I drink on Friday I suffer from a commitment problem (likely stemming from my own time inconsistency *). Fundamentally, before drinking I don’t want to go into town and drink too much (as I have work to do on Saturday), the next day I would prefer it if I hadn’t drunk a lot, but once I start drinking I find it hard to stop 😉

One way to pre-commit to not drinking too much is to not drink. However, I don’t like this solution at all. I want to have a few drinks with my work mates, and with my friends later on – but I would like to avoid drinking too much. Now, the “too much” bit actually occurs when I go out into town after work drinks – as a result if there was some way I could commit to not going out, I would be able to pre-commit to not drinking too much!

That is what I have done today – by taking casual Friday to the extreme I have ensured that most bars in Wellington will not let me in, removing the temptation to go into town by taking away my ability to. However, I will still be able to have a couple of beers at work and then head around to my friends house for a few beverages – thereby ensuring that I reach a superior outcome to the “don’t drink” scenario.

  • Michael Kluge

    -never trust a man who doesn’t drink
    -I’m gonna buy me a bottle whiskey, I’m gonna die before I turn senile
    -If whiskey doesn’t kill me, I’ll drink till I die
    -They say whiskey will kill ya, but I don’t think it will
    -Hung-over saturdays are still better than potato blights
    -Remember, it’s not what we’re drinking – it’s how we’re drinking!

    Just offering some words of encouragement 🙂

  • Very good – I’m still going to drink, I’m just not going to hit the Jägermeister shots tonight 🙂

  • goonix

    And you call yourself a man.

  • “And you call yourself a man.”

    Indeed – hey I’m an economist, I’m not going to peer pressured into drinking too much 😛

  • Michael Kluge

    Too much is only when you’re forced to liqiudate your position early… or if the establishment makes a margin call on you.

  • “Too much is only when you’re forced to liqiudate your position early… or if the establishment makes a margin call on you.”

    Don’t forget the negative externality associated with drinking – each additional drink lowers my productivity the following day. Because I am “time-inconsistent” I do not take account of this fully while I am consuming alcohol – ergo why there I need the pre-commitment mechanism to prevent a sub-optimal outcome.

  • goonix

    Why do you need to be productive on a Saturday? 😛

  • “Why do you need to be productive on a Saturday? 😛 ”

    You should know that an economist never sleeps – you are an economist after all 🙂

  • goonix

    I think you’re forgetting about the age-old leisure/labour trade-off Matt.

  • “I think you’re forgetting about the age-old leisure/labour trade-off Matt.”

    Its the advantage of being an economist:

    Leisure=economics
    Labour=economics

    Therefore,

    Leisure=Labour!!!

  • goonix

    LOL

  • Kimble

    SUBOPTIMAL!!!!

    The regret you will feel when you have enough to drink to decide to go out on the town (you know, the rational choice) will outweigh how much better you will feel tomorrow by not drinking tonight.

    Think about it. When do you get the most “emotional”? <—It is okay to lie here as we all know economists have no emotions.

    It is when you are drinking, right?

    How much more emotional do you get?

    Conservative estimates would be around 10 times (blowing out to a million times when you have had enough to drink to forget what numbers are).

    So any benefit you gain by staying in will need to be 10 times (conservatively) better than the emotional pain you feel from not going out tonight after taking into account the emotional inflator.

    QED

    PS. I started at lunch weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  • Rosie

    haha your a sarci biatch matt… and I love it:P

    but you know I’ve been thinking.. with the drinking, you could just control yourself..hehehe

  • “So any benefit you gain by staying in will need to be 10 times (conservatively) better than the emotional pain you feel from not going out tonight after taking into account the emotional inflator.”

    In my prior state, before the drinking, I have run the numbers and decided that the benefit from being productive tomorrow is enough 😛

    “but you know I’ve been thinking.. with the drinking, you could just control yourself..hehehe”

    Excuse me Rosie, weren’t you the one that convinced me of the following precommitment issues in food:

    http://tvhe.wordpress.com/2008/07/15/the-individual-rationality-of-buying-small-cokeschippies/

    I think it is just as relevant for boozing 😛

  • Rosie

    hehehe as soon as I wrote that I knew you’d bring that up haha true, true….:P

  • “In my prior state, before the drinking, I have run the numbers and decided that the benefit from being productive tomorrow is enough”

    Of course, welfare maximisation in the face of time consistency requires a reference frame to be chosen. Are you sure that choosing now as you rframe of reference is ideal? Perhaps, as Kimble suggests, tomorrow morning is a more appropriate fame of reference and you should really be getting drunk now.

    Or perhaps you should value your weekend free time more than your weekday and thus weight your emotions tomorrow morning, and while drunk, more heavily. I’m just not sure that your calculations — presumably done while sober — were done in the right frame of mind, or the right reference frame.

  • I’ve heard rumours of the existence of an economic paper entitled the Quantity Theory of Drink which proves the existence of the Piss Point…

  • Damn, it sounds like bars in Welly have got worse… How casual are we talking here? Jandals, shorts and a singlet?

  • Hey, I’m a journalist. We often have to drink before getting to first base on productivity.

    But seriously, well slightly more seriously, there’s almost certainly a productivity boost from going off-line and relaxing for a few hours. And there’s nothing wrong with making the science a little less dismal every so often.

    Remember, the French work almost half the number of hours that Americans do, and yet their productivity isn’t far behind.

  • I would have commented on this last night but had to go to the pub. My head hurts.

  • goonix

    I can now see the benefit of pre-commitment.

  • Glad to see a lot of comments here.

    I am sad to say that my plan failed. Although I managed to avoid town, I forgot about one potential state, the “drinking at parties at random peoples houses” state.

    As a result, my productivity on Saturday was significantly below what I had estimated earlier 🙁

    And for those who were wondering how casual I was dressed – trackpants and a hoody. I can’t imagine that many places outside of the four kings would let me in wearing trackpants 🙂