Discounting of monetary and directly consumable rewards

Psychol Sci. 2007 Jan;18(1):58-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01849.x.


We compared temporal and probability discounting of a nonconsumable reward (money) and three directly consumable rewards (candy, soda, and beer). When rewards were delayed, monetary rewards were discounted less steeply than directly consumable rewards, all three of which were discounted at equivalent rates. When rewards were probabilistic, however, there was no difference between the discounting of monetary and directly consumable rewards. It has been reported that substance abusers discount delayed drug rewards more steeply than delayed money, but this difference may reflect special characteristics of drugs or drug abusers, or it may reflect a general property of consumable rewards. The present findings suggest that abused substances (like beer) share the properties of other directly consumable rewards, whereas delayed monetary rewards are special because they are fungible, generalized (conditioned) reinforcers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Economics
  • Humans
  • Reward*