Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #394
Intertemporal and Interpersonal Decision-Making: Discounting Processes
Monday, May 25, 2009
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
North 227 BC
Area: EAB; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Chair: Richard Yi (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences)
Discussant: Edmund J. Fantino (University of California, San Diego)
Abstract: Numerous scientists have deliberated on decision-making contexts that involve dimensions of temporal distance and social distance, speculating that the same essential processes are involved in both types of decisions. One potential method of investigation into these questions is discounting procedures, where participants are asked to choose between alternatives that vary either intertemporal or interpersonal outcomes. This symposium reports on current research that explores discounting processes as functions of time, social distance, and their combination. The first presentation will examine temporal discounting processes when choices have interpersonal consequences; i.e., outcomes of the decision process affect others. The second presentation will examine social discounting processes that also include symmetrical and asymmetrical delay components. The third presentation will compare and contrast temporal and social discounting processes for various commodities. Across these presentations, the authors will highlight the implications of these datasets for understanding both individual and group behavior.
Now for me, later for us? Effects of group decisions on discount rates
RICHARD YI (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences), Shawn R. Charlton (University of Central Arkansas), Caitlin Porter (University of Central Arkansas)
Abstract: Temporal discounting, the decrease in reinforcing value associated with delay to the delivery of a reinforcer, has been demonstrated with a variety of commodities and in various contexts. However, unaddressed in the literature is the effect of making a choice that not only impacts the decision-maker’s outcome, but also that of other persons. For example, would the observed rate of discounting for $100 for the participant alone be similar to that for $1,000 to be split equally between 10 persons, including the participant? Results indicate (1) a correlation between discounting that impact only the self and discounting that impact other persons, and that (2) lower temporal discount rates are observed when framing the decision as involving other persons, rather than only the self, with gender as a possible moderating variable. The implications of these findings will be discussed.
Delayed social discounting: Relationship between delay and social discounting
CAITLIN PORTER (University of Central Arkansas), Shawn R. Charlton (University of Central Arkansas), Richard Yi (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences)
Abstract: Rachlin & Jones (2008) demonstrated that the amount of money a participant is willing to forego so that another person can receive a gain is a function of the degree of social connectedness between the decision-maker and the recipient of their “generosity”. In this original report, both outcomes occurred immediately. This symmetry raises an intriguing question: what would happen to the observed generosity if one or more the outcomes were delayed? In this paper, we report on a series of experiments looking at how temporal delay interacts with social discounting. Preliminary analyses indicate that increasing the delay to both the participant's and the social target's outcome has a limited (non-statistically significant) impact on observed discount rates. However, increasing the delay asymmetrically has a significant impact. When the delay is added to the participant's outcome, social discount rates decrease (more generous behavior). When the delay is added to the social targets outcome, discount rates increase (less generous behavior). In addition to these results, we will discuss both the significance of these findings and what these results can tell us about the discounting process in general.
Does similarity in form equal similarity in function? A comparison of temporal and social discounting.
SHAWN R. CHARLTON (University of Central Arkansas), Caitlin Porter (University of Central Arkansas), Richard Yi (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences)
Abstract: A hyperbolic discounting equation has been shown to adequately describe discounting in a number of different contexts (temporal discounting, probability discounting, and social discounting). Taken at face value, this could be interpreted as evidence that a single process is responsible for the change in behavior in each of these contexts. However, few direct comparisons have been made between observed discount rates in these distinct contexts. The project discussed in this presentation addresses this topic directly as it compares individual discount rates for temporal and social discounting (between context comparisons) and compares how the discounting context effects observed discount rates in these contexts through the comparison of choices for immediate versus delayed money, food, and music. Preliminary analyses from this project indicate that food and music are socially discounted at a slower rate than is money (greater generosity for food and iTunes downloads than for money). The opposite, steeper discounting for food and music than money, was observed for temporal discounting. The reversed commodity effect observed here is similar to the previously observed reversed magnitude effect of social discounting. The significance of these results for understanding the process of discounting is discussed.



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