Effort As Opportunity Cost - Deepstash
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Effort As Opportunity Cost

A new way of thinking about effort is in terms of opportunity cost. In the paper "An Opportunity Cost Model of Subjective Effort and Task Performance", Robert Kurzban and co-authors argue that certain parts of your brain can deploy many possible functions.

However, the executive will limit the number of simultaneous tasks and apply it only to the most valuable activities. This experience of the cost-benefits will feel like effort. When your current activity doesn't feel like a good use of your limited mental bandwidth, you feel like doing something else.


645 reads


Effort Depends On Alternatives

How effortful something feels will depend on what else is available. It is more effortful to work with an alternative nearby, such as your smartphone to browse Instagram instead.

If we see effort as a comparison of alternatives, then habits - automated behaviour -...


507 reads

Understanding Effort

Understanding Effort

What makes something effortful? For example, why is it harder to do a math problem than play a video game?

Understanding how effort works is essential. Many of our goals will require a lot of it. If we have the wrong view on how effort works, many of our systems will fail ...


2.54K reads

Discipline Is Specific

The willpower to do a specific activity depends on learning the value of the activity itself.

The opportunity-cost theory suggests that if you can establish that a particular activity is rewarding compared to alternatives, it will become less effortful.


597 reads

Willpower Depends On The Reward

In the opportunity-cost framework of effort, when you get rewarded for an effortful activity, the experience of effort becomes less unpleasant, meaning we can increase our self-control by remembering that certain actions yield positive results.

If persistence in do...


458 reads

Failure of the Ego Depletion Theory

At first, the ego-depletion theory was the dominant model on how effort works. It argues that willpower was a resource that could be depleted. Like a muscle, it could also be strengthened.

But the theory was criticised. Giving a reward could increase effor...


887 reads

Computer Time Sharing Metaphor

Effort is the experience that what you're currently doing is not worth it.

It's like computer time-sharing. The computer resources don't get used up, but they are limited. If you want to do something like running a major background process, like a backup or rendering o...


580 reads




Hammack lover. Especially with a good book in hand.

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Opportunity Cost

It is the estimated value of the best alternative or the best option that one misses out as a consequence of picking one particular option.

Example: Spending a limited resource, like Money, on healthcare, comes with the 'opportunity cost' of being unable to spend that amount on ed...

Overestimating Opportunity Cost

Certain external constraints make us overestimate the opportunity cost, as we start to imagine all the foregone options as a missed opportunity and start to see the situation irrationally. This can cause a negative emotional and psychological reaction, like regret.

The opportunity cost i...

Effort makes a task less attractive

Mental effort is costly, so we generally prefer to work on an simple task rather than a hard task. We procrastinate more if we expect a certain task to be hard.

This happens because the more effort a task requires, the more someone stands to gain by putting the same amount of effort in...


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