Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Amy L. Odum


Amy L. Odum


Gregory J. Madden


Kerry Jordan


Ryan Bosworth


Julie K. Young


Intertemporal choices are decisions between outcomes occurring at different times. For example, people may choose to quit smoking cigarettes for the delayed health-related benefits associated with abstention, or they may continue to smoke for the immediate gratification associated with smoking now. Importantly, patterns of intertemporal choices among people are associated with a number of maladaptive behaviors (e.g., cigarette smoking). In the present set of studies, I examine a facet of intertemporal choice: preference reversals. Although there are multiple forms of preference reversal, I focus on those characterized by shifts in preference from a larger-later reward to a smaller-immediate reward after a choice of that larger-later reward. Little research has been dedicated to examining these preference reversals despite their potential role in some maladaptive behaviors (e.g., relapse). To address this gap, I first developed a procedure to examine these preference reversals in a preclinical rat model (Chapter II). After developing this procedure, I used it to examine the effect of delay pre-exposure training on preference reversals in rats, allowing me to investigate a potential process (i.e., changes in temporal expectations) contributing to these preference reversals (Chapter III). Importantly, identifying the processes that contribute to these preference reversals may provide the means for developing interventions to avoid such reversals as they relate to human health. Thus, the goal of these studies was to provide an important step in progressing our understanding of preference reversals so that interventions can be developed to prevent them in people.



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