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Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9010001

Mix and Match: An Investigation into Whether Episodic Future Thinking Cues Need to Match Discounting Delays in Order to Be Effective

Department of Pediatrics, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, New York, NY 14214-3000, USA
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Received: 8 November 2018 / Revised: 13 December 2018 / Accepted: 18 December 2018 / Published: 21 December 2018
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Abstract

Episodic future thinking (EFT), or prospectively imagining yourself in the future, has been developed into an intervention tool to reduce delay discounting (DD), or the preference for smaller immediate over larger future rewards, and to make healthier choices that promote long-term health rather than short-term enjoyment. Most EFT interventions use EFT cues whose future events match the time delays of the DD task, which may limit the utility of EFT. The current study (N = 160, Mage = 35.25, 47.5% female) used a 2 × 2 factorial design with type of episodic thinking (matched, unmatched) and temporal perspective (EFT, episodic recent thinking (ERT)) as between-subject factors to investigate whether there were differences in DD for groups that had EFT cues matched to the time delays of the DD task in comparison to cues with unmatched temporal delays. The results showed EFT reduced DD compared to ERT controls, and no differences emerged between matched and unmatched EFT groups. Our findings suggest that either the process of generating EFT cues or the use of any positive and vivid future event, regardless of whether it is matched to the DD task, can reduce DD. View Full-Text
Keywords: episodic future thinking; delay discounting; temporal episodic future thinking; delay discounting; temporal
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O’Donnell, S.; Hollis-Hansen, K.; Epstein, L.H. Mix and Match: An Investigation into Whether Episodic Future Thinking Cues Need to Match Discounting Delays in Order to Be Effective. Behav. Sci. 2019, 9, 1.

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