Preference between two future outcomes may change over time -a phenomenon labeled as time inconsistency. The term « time inconsistency » is usually used to refer to cases in which a larger-later outcome is preferred over a smaller-sooner one when both are delayed by some time, but then with the passage of time a preference switches to the smaller-sooner outcome. The current paper presents four empirical studies showing that time inconsistency in the other direction is also possible: a person may prefer the smaller-sooner outcome when both options are in the future, but decide to wait for the larger-later one when the smaller option becomes immediately available. We find that such « reverse time inconsistency » is more likely to be observed when the delays to and between the two outcomes are short (up to a week). We propose that reverse time inconsistency may be associated with a reversed-S shape discount function, and provide evidence that such a discount function captures part of the variation in intertemporal preferences.
SAYMAN, S. et ÖNCÜLER, A. (2009). An Investigation of Time Inconsistency. Management Science, 55(3), pp. 470-482.