Opportunity costs of reward delays and the discounting of hypothetical money and cigarettes

Patrick S. Johnson, Evan S. Herrmann, Matthew W Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Humans are reported to discount delayed rewards at lower rates than nonhumans. However, nonhumans are studied in tasks that restrict reinforcement during delays, whereas humans are typically studied in tasks that do not restrict reinforcement during delays. In nonhuman tasks, the opportunity cost of restricted reinforcement during delays may increase delay discounting rates. The present within-subjects study used online crowdsourcing (Amazon Mechanical Turk, or MTurk) to assess the discounting of hypothetical delayed money (and cigarettes in smokers) under four hypothetical framing conditions differing in the availability of reinforcement during delays. At one extreme, participants were free to leave their computer without returning, and engage in any behavior during reward delays (modeling typical human tasks). At the opposite extreme, participants were required to stay at their computer and engage in little other behavior during reward delays (modeling typical nonhuman tasks). Discounting rates increased as an orderly function of opportunity cost. Results also indicated predominantly hyperbolic discounting, the "magnitude effect," steeper discounting of cigarettes than money, and positive correlations between discounting rates of these commodities. This is the first study to test the effects of opportunity costs on discounting, and suggests that procedural differences may partially account for observed species differences in discounting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-107
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Volume103
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Fingerprint

Reward
Tobacco Products
Costs and Cost Analysis
Crowdsourcing
Reinforcement (Psychology)
Delay Discounting

Keywords

  • Cigarette
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Delay discounting
  • Human
  • Hypothetical
  • Money
  • Opportunity cost

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Opportunity costs of reward delays and the discounting of hypothetical money and cigarettes. / Johnson, Patrick S.; Herrmann, Evan S.; Johnson, Matthew W.

In: Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Vol. 103, No. 1, 01.01.2015, p. 87-107.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{1f9bbd7d3bfd4a8b98d678853226a102,
title = "Opportunity costs of reward delays and the discounting of hypothetical money and cigarettes",
abstract = "Humans are reported to discount delayed rewards at lower rates than nonhumans. However, nonhumans are studied in tasks that restrict reinforcement during delays, whereas humans are typically studied in tasks that do not restrict reinforcement during delays. In nonhuman tasks, the opportunity cost of restricted reinforcement during delays may increase delay discounting rates. The present within-subjects study used online crowdsourcing (Amazon Mechanical Turk, or MTurk) to assess the discounting of hypothetical delayed money (and cigarettes in smokers) under four hypothetical framing conditions differing in the availability of reinforcement during delays. At one extreme, participants were free to leave their computer without returning, and engage in any behavior during reward delays (modeling typical human tasks). At the opposite extreme, participants were required to stay at their computer and engage in little other behavior during reward delays (modeling typical nonhuman tasks). Discounting rates increased as an orderly function of opportunity cost. Results also indicated predominantly hyperbolic discounting, the {"}magnitude effect,{"} steeper discounting of cigarettes than money, and positive correlations between discounting rates of these commodities. This is the first study to test the effects of opportunity costs on discounting, and suggests that procedural differences may partially account for observed species differences in discounting.",
keywords = "Cigarette, Crowdsourcing, Delay discounting, Human, Hypothetical, Money, Opportunity cost",
author = "Johnson, {Patrick S.} and Herrmann, {Evan S.} and Johnson, {Matthew W}",
year = "2015",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1002/jeab.110",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "103",
pages = "87--107",
journal = "Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior",
issn = "0022-5002",
publisher = "Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior Inc.",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Opportunity costs of reward delays and the discounting of hypothetical money and cigarettes

AU - Johnson, Patrick S.

AU - Herrmann, Evan S.

AU - Johnson, Matthew W

PY - 2015/1/1

Y1 - 2015/1/1

N2 - Humans are reported to discount delayed rewards at lower rates than nonhumans. However, nonhumans are studied in tasks that restrict reinforcement during delays, whereas humans are typically studied in tasks that do not restrict reinforcement during delays. In nonhuman tasks, the opportunity cost of restricted reinforcement during delays may increase delay discounting rates. The present within-subjects study used online crowdsourcing (Amazon Mechanical Turk, or MTurk) to assess the discounting of hypothetical delayed money (and cigarettes in smokers) under four hypothetical framing conditions differing in the availability of reinforcement during delays. At one extreme, participants were free to leave their computer without returning, and engage in any behavior during reward delays (modeling typical human tasks). At the opposite extreme, participants were required to stay at their computer and engage in little other behavior during reward delays (modeling typical nonhuman tasks). Discounting rates increased as an orderly function of opportunity cost. Results also indicated predominantly hyperbolic discounting, the "magnitude effect," steeper discounting of cigarettes than money, and positive correlations between discounting rates of these commodities. This is the first study to test the effects of opportunity costs on discounting, and suggests that procedural differences may partially account for observed species differences in discounting.

AB - Humans are reported to discount delayed rewards at lower rates than nonhumans. However, nonhumans are studied in tasks that restrict reinforcement during delays, whereas humans are typically studied in tasks that do not restrict reinforcement during delays. In nonhuman tasks, the opportunity cost of restricted reinforcement during delays may increase delay discounting rates. The present within-subjects study used online crowdsourcing (Amazon Mechanical Turk, or MTurk) to assess the discounting of hypothetical delayed money (and cigarettes in smokers) under four hypothetical framing conditions differing in the availability of reinforcement during delays. At one extreme, participants were free to leave their computer without returning, and engage in any behavior during reward delays (modeling typical human tasks). At the opposite extreme, participants were required to stay at their computer and engage in little other behavior during reward delays (modeling typical nonhuman tasks). Discounting rates increased as an orderly function of opportunity cost. Results also indicated predominantly hyperbolic discounting, the "magnitude effect," steeper discounting of cigarettes than money, and positive correlations between discounting rates of these commodities. This is the first study to test the effects of opportunity costs on discounting, and suggests that procedural differences may partially account for observed species differences in discounting.

KW - Cigarette

KW - Crowdsourcing

KW - Delay discounting

KW - Human

KW - Hypothetical

KW - Money

KW - Opportunity cost

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84920946031&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84920946031&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1002/jeab.110

DO - 10.1002/jeab.110

M3 - Article

C2 - 25388973

AN - SCOPUS:84920946031

VL - 103

SP - 87

EP - 107

JO - Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

JF - Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

SN - 0022-5002

IS - 1

ER -