Area under the curve as a measure of discounting

J Exp Anal Behav. 2001 Sep;76(2):235-43. doi: 10.1901/jeab.2001.76-235.


We describe a novel approach to the measurement of discounting based on calculating the area under the empirical discounting function. This approach avoids some of the problems associated with measures based on estimates of the parameters of theoretical discounting functions. The area measure may be easily calculated for both individual and group data collected using any of a variety of current delay and probability discounting procedures. The present approach is not intended as a substitute for theoretical discounting models. It is useful, however, to have a simple, univariate measure of discounting that is not tied to any specific theoretical framework.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Probability
  • Reward*