PROBABILITY AND DELAY DISCOUNTING OF GAINS AND LOSSES USING THE MULTIPLE-CHOICE METHOD

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Abstract

Discounting occurs when the subjective value of an outcome changes because its delivery is delayed or uncertain. In the present study, 149 university students completed a discounting task that involved the hypothetical outcome of either $1,000 or $100,000. The full outcome was either delayed or probabilistic and was framed as either a gain or a loss. Discounting data were analyzed via a hyperbolic function, hyperbolic-like function, and area under the discounting curve. Regardless of the analysis method, rates of discounting varied inversely with the magnitude of delayed gains but directly with the magnitude of delayed losses. Significant magnitude effects were not observed with probability discounting. Participants discounted delayed losses significantly more than delayed gains. The opposite was observed for probability discounting. Finally, results from factor analyses did not show clear evidence that discounting of delayed or probabilistic gains or losses were accounted for by different factors. Some, but not all, of these results are consistent with previously reported findings. The influence of the method of collecting and analyzing discounting data is discussed.

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