chapter  2
33 Pages

Temporal preference

As I scan my daily newspaper over breakfast, I note the television programs scheduled for the evening. It is easy at so early an hour to vow that I will under no circumstances allow myself to watch what is on offer. Tidying my sock drawer or deadheading the roses seem more valuable uses of my time, and serious reading or writing infinitely preferable. Comes the evening, however, the opportunity to relax and be passively entertained wins out. Am I speaking here of “myself ” as one person whose preferences are reversible simply with the passage of time, or of two separate agents warring to gain the upper hand? If the latter, how are they related and how do they influence each another? Perhaps there is some superordinate level of decision-making that arbitrates between them; or perhaps they reflect no more than differing histories of operant reinforcement.