Towards a general model of temporal discounting

Wouter Van Den Bos, Samuel M. McClure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

61 Scopus citations

Abstract

Psychological models of temporal discounting have now successfully displaced classical economic theory due to the simple fact that many common behavior patterns, such as impulsivity, were unexplainable with classic models. However, the now dominant hyperbolic model of discounting is itself becoming increasingly strained. Numerous factors have arisen that alter discount rates with no means to incorporate the different influences into standard hyperbolic models. Furthermore, disparate literatures are emerging that propose theoretical constructs that are seemingly independent of hyperbolic discounting. We argue that, although hyperbolic discounting provides an eminently useful quantitative measure of discounting, it fails as a descriptive psychological model of the cognitive processes that produce intertemporal preferences. Instead, we propose that recent contributions from cognitive neuroscience indicate a path for developing a general model of time discounting. New data suggest a means by which neuroscience-based theory may both integrate the diverse empirical data on time preferences and merge seemingly disparate theoretical models that impinge on time preferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-73
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the experimental analysis of behavior
Volume99
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 10 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Hyperbolic discounting
  • Multiple selves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Towards a general model of temporal discounting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this