“Give Your Smartphone a Break: Mobile Temptation and Self-Control through Precommitment” by Ms. Hyunji So
Ms. Hyunji So
Ph.D. Candidate in Management Engineering
College Of Business
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
This study investigated the effectiveness of diverse precommitment mechanisms as self-control measures against irresistible mobile temptation (i.e., an uncontrollable desire to consume mobile apps). Precommitment systems are made available by app blocking options that restrict future app consumption at user discretion. Researchers predominantly regard rules and incentives as effective precommitment methods, but little scholarly exploration has been devoted to how people implement and manipulate these mechanisms in the face of temptation and impulsivity. We extended the literature on self-control by establishing a precommitment typology that integrates underlying mechanisms (rules and incentives) with functional structures (temporal and spatial). We then empirically validated the efficacy of each proposed precommitment scheme on the basis of unique log data that reflect users’ self-regulation behaviors against mobile temptation. Our findings indicated that an average user can reduce daily app usage by as much as 40% when precommitment schemes are activated. However, mixed results were obtained with respect to the efficacy of the rule-driven precommitment schemes. Rigid temporal precommitment more effectively motivates increases in block time than does flexible temporal precommitment, but contrary to expectations, rigid spatial precommitment is less effective in this regard than flexible spatial precommitment. The results also suggested that both social and reinforcement-based precommitment successfully advance sustained command over oneself and therefore aid users in increasing the voluntary implementation of block time. We drew implications that can guide policy makers and managers in reducing vulnerability to excessive mobile dependence in public and workplace settings.