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, 17 (1), 15-22

Commitment, Choice and Self-Control

Commitment, Choice and Self-Control

H Rachlin et al. J Exp Anal Behav.


When offered a choice (Choice Y) between a small immediate reward (2-sec exposure to grain) and a large reward (4-sec exposure to grain) delayed by 4 sec, pigeons invariably preferred the small, immediate reward. However, when offered a choice (Choice X) between a delay of T seconds followed by Choice Y and a delay of T seconds followed by restriction to the large delayed reward only, the pigeon's choice depended on T. When T was small, the pigeons chose the alternative leading to Choice Y (and then chose the small, immediate reward). When T was large, the pigeons chose the alternative leading to the large delayed reward only. The reversal of preference as T increases is predicted by several recent models for choice between various amounts and delays of reward. The preference for the large delayed alternative with long durations of T parallels everyday instances of advance commitment to a given course of action. Such commitment may be seen as a prototype for self-control.

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