A discounting framework for choice with delayed and probabilistic rewards

Psychol Bull. 2004 Sep;130(5):769-92. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.130.5.769.


When choosing between delayed or uncertain outcomes, individuals discount the value of such outcomes on the basis of the expected time to or the likelihood of their occurrence. In an integrative review of the expanding experimental literature on discounting, the authors show that although the same form of hyperbola-like function describes discounting of both delayed and probabilistic outcomes, a variety of recent findings are inconsistent with a single-process account. The authors also review studies that compare discounting in different populations and discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the findings. The present effort illustrates the value of studying choice involving both delayed and probabilistic outcomes within a general discounting framework that uses similar experimental procedures and a common analytical approach.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Reward*
  • Time Factors