Date of Award

Fall 9-2016

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social and Decision Sciences


Linda Babcock


This dissertation integrates literature on optimization in sequencebased search and literature on affective forecasting and investigates one reason why consumers may be mistakenly oversaving things they own for the “right” moment. An initial survey of realworld consumer behavior documents the importance of the right moment in consumers’ choices of when to use what they own. A complementary analysis of historical behavior then identifies systematic delays of everyday item use beyond opportunities that would have been highly beneficial, a signal that consumers may commonly be waiting for but failing to find the right moment for item use in everyday scenarios. A theory is then proposed to explain those and other initial findings as the consequences of a systematic bias, affecting optimization: namely, ease of retrieval. A pair of controlled experiments test the theorized mechanism as an explanation for mistaken oversaving on the parts of item owners. Cumulative results indicate that the right moment’s relative ease of retrieval may be one direct cause of mistaken decisions to save rather than consume.