Ryan Higginbotham

Ryan Higginbotham

Surrogate Delay Discounting Rate Depends On Observation of Different Health Behavior


Ryan Higginbotham, Jesse Dallery


Dr. Jesse Dallery


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Delay discounting is the tendency to devalue future rewards as the delay to their receipt increases. Discounting is typically measured by providing repeated choices between smaller immediately available rewards or larger rewards available after a delay. More rapid discounting has been linked to a variety of substance use disorders including cigarette smoking. Self-observation of past “impulsive” or “self-controlled” choices could provide a potential explanation for the higher discounting rates observed for smokers compared with nonsmokers. If responses to discounting tasks are informed by observation of “impulsive” or “self-controlled” health-related behaviors, then it should not matter whether the observation is from the first or third-person perspective. Participants (n=65) were shown two videos: one of a woman eating an apple and one of another woman smoking a cigarette. Following each video, participants completed a delay discounting task as a surrogate decision-maker for each model in the videos. Discounting rates were significantly higher from the perspective of the woman seen smoking than from the perspective of the woman seen eating an apple. The implications of these findings and the potential merit of the notion that different histories of observation inform intertemporal choice are discussed.


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