Models and Methods in Delay Discounting


Address for correspondence: Alan G. Sanfey, Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, 1503 E. University Boulevard, Tucson, AZ 85721. Voice: +520-621-1477.


Delay discounting (DD) is a term typically used to describe the devaluation of rewards over time, and much research across a wide variety of domains has illustrated that people in general prefer a smaller reward delivered soon as opposed to a larger reward delivered at a later stage. Despite numerous attempts, a single unified model of DD that accounts for the varied pattern of results typically observed has been elusive. One of the difficulties in deriving a unified model is the presence of many framing and context effects, situations in which changing, apparently irrelevant, aspects of the choice scenarios lead to different selections. Additionally, different paradigms of DD research use quite different methodology, which poses challenges for a unified model. This chapter describes some of the difficulties in creating a single DD model and suggests some experiments that would help integrate different paradigms to create a clearer picture of DD.