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Experience Matters: The Effects of Hypothetical versus Experiential Delays and Magnitudes on Impulsive Choice in Delay Discounting Tasks

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Department of Food, Nutrition, Dietetics, and Health, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA
2
Department of Psychological Sciences, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(12), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9120379
Received: 11 November 2019 / Revised: 12 December 2019 / Accepted: 13 December 2019 / Published: 16 December 2019
Impulsive choice in humans is typically measured using hypothetical delays and rewards. In two experiments, we determined how experiencing the delay and/or the reward affected impulsive choice behavior. Participants chose between two amounts of real or hypothetical candy (M&Ms) after a real or hypothetical delay (5–30 s), where choosing the shorter delay was the impulsive choice. Experiment 1 compared choice behavior on a real-delay, real-reward (RD/RR) task where participants received M&Ms after experiencing the delays versus a real-delay, hypothetical-reward (RD/HR) task where participants accumulated hypothetical M&Ms after experiencing the delays. Experiment 2 compared the RD/HR task and a hypothetical-delay, hypothetical-reward (HD/HR) task where participants accumulated hypothetical M&Ms after hypothetical delays. The results indicated that choices did not differ between real and hypothetical M&Ms (Experiment 1), and participants were less sensitive to delay and more larger-later (LL)-preferring with hypothetical delays compared to real delays (Experiment 2). Experiencing delays to reward may be important for modeling real-world impulsive choices where delays are typically experienced. These novel experiential impulsive choice tasks may improve translational methods for comparison with animal models and may be improved procedures for predicting real-life choice behavior in humans. View Full-Text
Keywords: impulsive choice; delay discounting; experiential discounting task (EDT) impulsive choice; delay discounting; experiential discounting task (EDT)
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Steele, C.C.; Gwinner, M.; Smith, T.; Young, M.E.; Kirkpatrick, K. Experience Matters: The Effects of Hypothetical versus Experiential Delays and Magnitudes on Impulsive Choice in Delay Discounting Tasks. Brain Sci. 2019, 9, 379.

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