Decision making, impulsivity and time perception

Trends Cogn Sci. 2008 Jan;12(1):7-12. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2007.10.004. Epub 2007 Nov 26.


Time is an important dimension when individuals make decisions. Specifically, the time until a beneficial outcome can be received is viewed as a cost and is weighed against the benefits of the outcome. We propose that impulsive individuals experience time differently, that is with a higher cost. Impulsive subjects, therefore, overestimate the duration of time intervals and, as a consequence, discount the value of delayed rewards more strongly than do self-controlled individuals. The literature on time perception and impulsivity, however, is not clear cut and needs a better theoretical foundation. Here, we develop the theoretical background on concepts of time perception, which could lead to an empirically based notion of the association between an altered sense of time and impulsivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Brain / physiology
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Time Perception / physiology*