The Psychological Record

, Volume 68, Issue 4, pp 441–449 | Cite as

The Relationship Between Delay and Social Discounting, and Body Mass Index in University Students

  • Katherine Wainwright
  • Breanna E. Green
  • Paul RomanowichEmail author
Original Article


Delay discounting is associated with body mass index (BMI), with individuals who discount more having higher BMIs. This same relationship was found when a social component was added during a social temporal discounting procedure. However, no study has tested whether the social component by itself is related to BMI. The current study tested the relationships between social discounting, delay discounting, and BMI. Eight hundred seven undergraduates completed delay and social discounting measures, and a demographic questionnaire from which BMI was calculated. Social discounting was not significantly related to age-adjusted or non-age-adjusted BMI. However, using non-age-adjusted BMI scores and dichotomizing individuals as either non-obese/obese resulted in a significant relationship between social discounting and BMI in the predicted direction, whereby participants with a higher BMI shared significantly more than non-obese individuals. Consistent with previous research, there was a significant relationship between delay discounting and BMI, and a significant correlation between delay and social discounting. Additionally, participants with low BMI (< 18.5) appeared to substantially contribute to the significant results. The current results replicated a previous delay discounting and BMI relationship, but also demonstrate the need to standardize how BMI is calculated and focus on participants with low BMI in relation to discounting measures.


Altruism BMI Discounting Self-control Sharing 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA

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