A little article on the idea that behavioral change can be achieved by raising the stakes. This is an idea that economists and lawyers like; so it’s unsurprising that the boffins referenced include one of each. To my mind and as a fan of the work on hyperbolic discounting this is just another example of the business model behind most gyms. You sign up when your interest in good health is dominate, but later it’s status among your assorted interests plummets, but your left with the subscription. This is an ethical danger with all subscription based businesses. The unethical vendor takes advantage of the enthusiasm of one moment to lock in a long term commitment. While there is some sort of power/erotic subtext in this idea, this also part of a pattern where we try to negotiate between our interests by creating alliances amongst groups of them. If we have a strong interest or success in one area of our interests then the hope is that by linking them to one of other other desires, say to loose weight, we can bring success in one domain. That’s what we do when we make public promises to follow thru on a given interest, tie our reputation to that interest.
These often fail.