People often choose smaller rewards over larger ones when smaller rewards are available sooner, and they also often choose larger rewards over smaller ones despite the fact that the larger rewards are less likely. Behavioral economic explanations for such behavior, which is typically considered impulsive, are based on delay discounting (i.e., the decrease in subjective value of a future reward as delay to its receipt increases) and probability discounting (i.e., the decrease in subjective value of a probabilistic reward as its likelihood decreases). Delay and probability discounting functions describe how subjective value changes with delay and likelihood, respectively, and different models assume different forms of discounting function. The proposed research evaluates different discounting theories and their implications for the nature of the choice process. The research will extend discounting theory to choices involving losses as well as gains and to combinations of delayed and probabilistic outcomes. In addition, the proposed research will examine differences between decisions involving different kinds of rewards. Individual differences in discounting will be studied to determine the extent to which the degree of discounting (impatient or risky choices) in one situation predicts the degree of discounting in other situations. Animals as well as humans will be studied in order to evaluate the generality of the theories and to address issues difficult to study experimentally with humans. People and animals will make choices between different amounts, types, delays, and probabilities of reward. The proposed research will examine the role of discounting in decision making, thereby increasing our understanding of impulsivity, risk taking, and self-control. The findings will have important implications for the application of discounting theory to the promotion of healthy behavioral choices.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed research examines the role of discounting in decision making and the implications of discounting theory for promotion of healthy choices. The findings will increase our understanding of impulsivity and risk taking, and will strengthen the empirical and conceptual foundations of current theories of self-control and decision making.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01MH055308-16
Application #
8309103
Study Section
Biobehavioral Regulation, Learning and Ethology Study Section (BRLE)
Program Officer
Rossi, Andrew
Project Start
1997-06-01
Project End
2014-04-30
Budget Start
2012-05-01
Budget End
2014-04-30
Support Year
16
Fiscal Year
2012
Total Cost
$342,000
Indirect Cost
$117,000
Name
Washington University
Department
Psychology
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
068552207
City
Saint Louis
State
MO
Country
United States
Zip Code
63130
Vanderveldt, Ariana; Green, Leonard; Myerson, Joel (2015) Discounting of monetary rewards that are both delayed and probabilistic: delay and probability combine multiplicatively, not additively. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 41:148-62
Oliveira, Luís; Green, Leonard; Myerson, Joel (2014) Pigeons' delay discounting functions established using a concurrent-chains procedure. J Exp Anal Behav 102:151-61
Myerson, Joel; Baumann, Ana A; Green, Leonard (2014) Discounting of delayed rewards: (A)theoretical interpretation of the Kirby questionnaire. Behav Processes 107:99-105
Green, Leonard; Myerson, Joel; Oliveira, Luís et al. (2014) Discounting of delayed and probabilistic losses over a wide range of amounts. J Exp Anal Behav 101:186-200
Craver, Carl F; Cova, Florian; Green, Leonard et al. (2014) An Allais paradox without mental time travel. Hippocampus 24:1375-80
Green, Leonard; Myerson, Joel (2013) How many impulsivities? A discounting perspective. J Exp Anal Behav 99:3-13
Kwan, Donna; Craver, Carl F; Green, Leonard et al. (2013) Dissociations in future thinking following hippocampal damage: evidence from discounting and time perspective in episodic amnesia. J Exp Psychol Gen 142:1355-69
Green, Leonard; Myerson, Joel; Oliveira, Luis et al. (2013) Delay discounting of monetary rewards over a wide range of amounts. J Exp Anal Behav 100:269-81
Dixon, Mark R; Lik, Nicholas Mui Ker; Green, Leonard et al. (2013) Delay discounting of hypothetical and real money: the effect of holding reinforcement rate constant. J Appl Behav Anal 46:512-7
Freeman, Kevin B; Nonnemacher, J Emily; Green, Leonard et al. (2012) Delay discounting in rhesus monkeys: equivalent discounting of more and less preferred sucrose concentrations. Learn Behav 40:54-60

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