The effect of SMS notifications on time preferences

Avi Israel, Mosi Rosenboim, Tal Shavit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we use the SMS instant messaging application to examine the effect of notifications on time preferences. To do so, we conducted a laboratory experiment with three different groups. Participants in the first (second) treatment group received SMS messages with a high (low) degree of frequency. The third group was a control group that did not receive any SMS messages. The results show that, with exposure to SMS notifications, regardless of their frequency, the tendency to favor the present increases. They also indicate that SMS notifications affect impulsiveness and stress. However, the influence of impulsiveness and stress were not the factors that activated the change in time preferences. In addition to the contribution to the literature on smartphones and human behavior, our results have real-life implications regarding how we make decisions when we are interrupted by notifications from our mobile devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101818
JournalJournal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Cognitive load
  • SMS interruption impulsiveness
  • Stress
  • Time preference


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