The Relationship Between Delay and Social Discounting, and Body Mass Index in University Students
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.
KeywordsAltruism BMI Discounting Self-control Sharing
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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 was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Bickel, W. K., Jarmolowicz, D. P., Mueller, E. T., Koffarnus, M. N., & Gatchalian, K. M. (2012). Excessive discounting of delayed reinforcers as a trans-disease process contributing to addiction and other disease-related vulnerabilities: emerging evidence. Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 134, 287–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015a). About adult BMI. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/index.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015b). About child and teen BMI. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/childrens_bmi/about_childrens_ bmi.html.
- Fairburn, C. G., Cooper, Z., Shafran, R., Bohn, K., Hawker, D. M., Murphy, R., & Straebler, S. (2008). Underweight and undereating. Cognitive behavior therapy and eating disorders; cognitive behavior therapy and eating disorders (pp. 147–182, Chapter xii, 324 Pages) Guilford Press, New York.Google Scholar
- Locey, M. L., Jones, B. A., & Rachlin, H. (2011). Real and hypothetical rewards in self-control and social discounting. Judgment and Decision making, 6(6), 522–564.Google Scholar
- Nooyens, A. C. J., Visscher, T. L. S., Verschuren, W. M., Schuit, A. J., Boshuizen, H. C., van Mechelen, W., & Seidell, J. C. (2009). Age, period and cohort effects on body weight and body mass index in adults: the doetinchem cohort study. Public Health Nutrition, 12(6), 862–870.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Rachlin, H., & Raineri, A. (1992). Irrationality, impulsiveness, and selfishness as discount reversal effects. In G. Loewenstein & J. Elster (Eds.), Choice over time (pp. 93–118). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
- Siegel, D. J. (2012). The developing mind: how relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- World Health Organization. (2017a). BMI classification. Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/bmi/index.jsp?introPage=intro_3.html
- World Health Organization. (2017b). BMI-for-age (5–19 years). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/growthref/who2007_bmi_for_age/en/