Mountaineer Undergraduate Research Review

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Research on impulsive behavior is often designed to examine the choice between a smaller, more immediate reinforcer versus a larger, more delayed one (e.g., Anderson & Woolverton 2005; Diller, Saunders, & Anderson 2008; Logue 1988). When the delays to both the larger and smaller reinforcers are short, the larger reinforcer is usually chosen. As the delay to the larger reinforcer increases, choice for that reinforcer decreases and switches to choice for the smaller, more immediate reinforcer. This decrease in choice for the larger reinforcer as delay increases is known as delay discounting, as the value of the larger reinforcer is said to be discounted as delay to its presentation increases (Mazur 1987). Greater delay discounting has been correlated with substance abuse, gambling, and ADHD (Bickel, Odum, & Madden 1999; Perry & Carroll 2008; Dixon, Marley, & Jacobs 2003; Evenden 1999). Thus, much work has been aimed at assessing variables that affect delay-discounting rates. Relevant to the present study is the addition or subtraction of a constant delay to both the larger and smaller reinforcers.