Temporal discounting

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Temporal discounting (also known as delay discounting, time discounting, time preference)[1] is the tendency of people to discount rewards as they approach a temporal horizon in the future or the past (i.e., become so distant in time that they cease to be valuable or to have additive effects). To put it another way, it is a tendency to give greater value to rewards as they move away from their temporal horizons and towards the "now". For instance, a nicotine deprived smoker may highly value a cigarette available any time in the next 6 hours but assign little or no value to a cigarette available in 6 months.[2]

This term is used in intertemporal economics, intertemporal choice, neurobiology of reward and decision making, microeconomics and recently neuroeconomics.[3] Traditional models of economics assumed that the discounting function is exponential in time leading to a monotonic decrease in preference with increased time delay; however, more recent neuroeconomic models suggest a hyperbolic discount function which can address the phenomenon of preference reversal.[4]

Preference reversal[edit]

Offered a choice of $100 today and $100 in one month, individuals will most likely choose the $100 now. However, should the question change to having $100 today, or $1,000 in one month, individuals will most likely choose the $1,000 in one month. The $100 can be conceptualized as a Smaller Sooner Reward (SSR), and the $1,000 can be conceptualized as a Larger Later Reward (LLR). Researchers who study temporal discounting are interested in the point in time in which an individual changes their preference for the SSR to the LLR, or vice versa. For example, although an individual may prefer $1,000 in one month over $100 now, they may switch their preference to the $100 if the delay to the $1,000 is increased to 60 months (5 years). This means that this individual values $1,000 after a delay of 60 months less than $100 now. The trick is to find the point in time in which the individual values the LLR and the SSR as being equivalent. That is known as the indifference point [5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Doyle, John R. (2013). "Survey of time preference, delay discounting models" (PDF). Judgment and Decision Making. 8 (2): 116–135. ISSN 1930-2975. 
  2. ^ Bickel, W. K.; Odum, A. L.; Madden, G. J. (1999). "Impulsivity and cigarette smoking: delay discounting in current, never, and ex-smokers". Psychopharmacology. 146 (4): 447–454. doi:10.1007/PL00005490. ISSN 0033-3158. 
  3. ^ Takahashi T., Hadzibeganovic T., Cannas S. A., Makino T., Fukui H., Kitayama S. (2009). "Cultural neuroeconomics of intertemporal choice". Neuro Endocrinol. Lett. 30 (2): 185–91. PMID 19675524. 
  4. ^ Green, Leonard; Myerson, Joel (2004). "A Discounting Framework for Choice With Delayed and Probabilistic Rewards.". Psychological Bulletin. 130 (5): 769–792. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.130.5.769. ISSN 0033-2909. 
  5. ^ Odum, Amy L. (2011). "Delay Discounting: I'm a k, You're a k". Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. 96 (3): 427–439. doi:10.1901/jeab.2011.96-423. ISSN 0022-5002. PMC 3213005Freely accessible. PMID 22084499.