Internal conflict

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Advice from economists

How should we deal with internal inconsistencies? Economists advice to create means of controlling the destructive impulses of the short-term decision making. “ Should” self should be a planner – developing advanced schemes to corral, co-opt and control the “want” self. Structure is a way that makes your “want” self to act in “should” self’s best interest. Plan to control the impulses of the “want” self.

If one is concerned with diet, find an enjoyable form of physical exercise and make sure healthy food is available when the “want” self feels hungry. Anticipate situations in which passion tends to overcome reason and avoid those situations entirely. Inflexible pre-commitments can increase effectiveness of such rules. Furthermore, if an alcohol abuser aims to receive help, they should be choose one of the following. For instance: they could use drug Antabuse that produces nausea if they consumer alcohol. Outside parties such as parents, employers or government can also help.

Advice from decision theorists

Raiffa (1968) suggests to question yourself to find out which self is making the error. For instance: “should” self can confront “want” self with its limited perspective e.g. what is the long term implication of this decision? “Want” self can elucidate for the “should” self some of the more elusive feelings that have been neglected by its formal analysis. Communication should take place until reconciliation occurs.

This gives voice, opportunity and input to the emotional and visceral needs of “want” self. Lowenstein (1996) suggests “want” self can provide valuable inputs. It sends hunger signals that are needed for nutritional input. For instance: sending a signal of pain in potentially harmful environments. Emotions help us to interpret prioritise function, as well as energise for action.

Advice from negotiation researchers

Two parts of self can negotiate a settlement to their differences, given mutual dependence on each other. This modification suggests to develop a rational negotiation strategy for dealing with the “want” self.

“Want” self should be given more autonomy and stronger voice in decision making and negotiation process. One should treat “want” self as a negotiator, giving power to declare an impasse. This aims to bypass both: domination of the “should” self in the decision making stage and the “want” self in the implementation stage.

Negotiation criteria includes three parts:

  1. This requires two sides to reach an agreement. An ongoing conflict would lead “should” self to continue to make variety of decisions that the “want” self sabotages.
  2. Agreement should be Pareto efficient. This means no other agreement that the “want” self and the “should” self both prefer over the created agreement. Decision should be reached through discussions and compromises. For instance: if the “want” self wants an ice cream, the “should” self should exercise. By agreeing to reasonable times and limits, the “want” self will likely to be more willing to follow the agreement.
  3. “Should” self must not push for an agreement that is outside the bargaining zone. Terms must not be unacceptable to the “want” self, either currently or in the future. “Should” self must remember that the “want” self can void the contract at any time.

Adapted from

Bazerman, M.H. and Moore, D.A., 1994. Judgment in managerial decision making (p. 226). New York: Wiley.

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