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Egonomics is a form of self-management first proposed by Thomas Schelling in his paper "Egonomics, or the Art of Self-Management." Schelling suggested that individuals suffer from a sort of split-personality disorder whereby the present self wants a specific thing (e.g., eating a cookie) but the future or past self wants a different thing (e.g., losing weight). Both selves exist, but do not exist at the same time.

Schelling wrote: "What I have in mind is an act or decision that a person takes ...[based upon] preferences [that] differ from what they were earlier...If the person could make the final decision about that action at the earlier time, precluding a later change in mind, he would make a different choice ..."[citation needed]

Schelling suggested a number of strategies for dealing with this issue in his paper, such as precommitment, use of bright line rules, delay tactics, or creating a pre-arranged deal between selves.

On similar lines, contrary to Schelling’s definition, author Gaurav Madan defines “Egonomics” as a composite of two terms – “Ego” and “omics”. In his view, Ego means the self-awareness, a part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing, and also a sense of personal identity. However, the suffix –omics derives its meaning from biology that means a study in the totality of an entity, which in this case is self. Thus, he suggests “Egonomics” as a process of developing holistic awareness of “awareness” itself. He further adds, it should not be confused self-perception, self-identity or similar terms.

Similar to the work of Schelling, Gaurav affirms that "at the core of Egonomics is the idea that within each individual exists two selves: the past or future self and the present self, constantly at odds, leading to a sort of cognitive dissonance between the two. Both selves exist within us and are equally valid, but aren’t always active at the same time. It’s a natural and ongoing conflict between immediate desire and long-term desires, we call longing." Egonomics is the pursuit of awareness of that longing.


  • Schelling, Thomas C. (May 1978), "Egonomics, or the art of self-management", American Economic Review, American Economic Association, 68 (2): 290–294 
  • Schelling, Thomas C. (1980), "The intimate contest for self-command" (PDF), National Affairs (6): 94–118, retrieved 2015-07-13 

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