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Temporal Discounting

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Impulsivity; Self-control; Time-delay discounting


The phenomenon in which the value of a reward decreases as the time delay until its receipt increases.


Temporal discounting refers to the phenomenon in which the subjective value of some reward loses its magnitude when the given reward is delayed (see [2]). Similar to the notion of “delayed gratification,” relatively high degrees of discounting are synonymous with impulsivity. On the contrary, when individuals demonstrate a sustained interest and motivation in a delayed reward, they are said to have less discounting, and thereby more self-control. Temporal discounting may be measured via two assessment methods: (1) hypothetical choice trials or (2) choices with deliverable outcomes. During hypothetical choice trials, individuals are presented with the option between a hypothetical smaller sooner reward (e.g., $5 now) and some larger delayed alternative (e.g., $10 in a week). These hypothetical choices...

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Reed, D.D., Luiselli, J.K. (2011). Temporal Discounting. In: Goldstein, S., Naglieri, J.A. (eds) Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development. Springer, Boston, MA.

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