Measuring state changes in human delay discounting: an experiential discounting task

Behav Processes. 2004 Nov 30;67(3):343-56. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2004.06.003.


A new experiential discounting task (EDT) is presented. Unlike existing question-based measures of delay discounting, which rely on imagined consequences during task completion, this EDT requires that participants experience choice consequences (i.e. delays and pseudo consumatory responses) during the measurement period. As a preliminary examination of this task's sensitivity to variability in discounting, 12 participants (six females) completed a timing test (production and reproduction), a question-based measure of delay discounting, and the EDT during non-sleep-deprived (awake 7 h) and sleep-deprived (awake 21 h) conditions. Based on evidence that sleep deprivation increases impulsive behavior, it was hypothesized that participants would underrepresent time intervals in both production and reproduction procedures and discount significantly more with the discounting procedures while sleep deprived. Unfortunately, data from the question-based discounting procedure could not be reported due to invalid task completion. However, as hypothesized, certain production and reproduction intervals were underrepresented on the timing test, and discounting was significantly steeper on the EDT when participants were sleep deprived. Also, rate of discounting on the EDT was better characterized by a hyperbolic function than by exponential function, which is consistent with previous delay-discounting research. These preliminary results suggest this EDT may be a useful measure for assessing state changes in discounting processes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Decision Making*
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / epidemiology
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Sleep Deprivation / complications*
  • Sleep Deprivation / epidemiology
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Wakefulness / physiology