Qualitative Variations in Delay Discounting: A Brief Review and Future Directions
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionFurrebøe, E. F. (2022). Qualitative Variations in Delay Discounting: A Brief Review and Future Directions. Behavioural Processes, 200, Artikkel 104666. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2022.104666
The discounting paradigm has been challenged by an increasing number of studies presenting qualitative variations in the individual discount function. Particularly, the subjective value of a loss does not necessarily systematically decrease with delay to the outcome. Qualitative variation refers to variations in shape rather than steepness of the discount function, such as positive discounting, zero discounting, unsystematic discounting, and negative discounting. Data from three previous studies were analysed in terms of qualitative variations observed in delay discounting patterns. Attention was also given to methods used and to the relationship between the results from the various levels of investigation. We found qualitative differences between discounting of monetary gains and losses on an individual level. While discounting of gains mainly took the form of conventional positive discounting, discounting of losses often took the form of zero discounting or unsystematic discounting. Further, there were more qualitative variations in discounting of both gains and losses among adolescents compared to adults. By examining verbal reports and single choices, we identified some of the rules and consequences involved in these delay discounting patterns. The different rules and consequences observed for the gain and loss scenarios, support that discounting of gains and losses may involve different combinations of reinforcing contingencies. These results point towards a possible way to explain the influences of qualitative variations in delay discounting.