Temporal discounting and utility for health and money

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 1996 May;22(3):771-91. doi: 10.1037//0278-7393.22.3.771.


In 3 experiments, choices for hypothetical amounts of future health and money showed that, contrary to normative discounted utility theory, the temporal discount rate, or annual percentage increase in value needed to offset a delay, differed for the 2 domains. Domain independence, defined as the low correlation between health and money discount rates relative to the consistency within each domain, was not due to different utility functions for health and money. Consistent with other research, these results suggest that decision domain affects the cognitive processes used. Despite this domain difference, there were some similarities between the 2 domains. Both health and money decisions revealed that discount rates were larger for short delays, small magnitudes, and gains as compared with losses.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Time Perception*