Delay Discounting of Real and Hypothetical Rewards III: Steady-State Assessments, Forced-Choice Trials, and All Real Rewards
Human research in delay discounting has omitted several procedures typical of animal studies: forced-choice trials, consequences following each response, and assessment of stable response patterns. The present study manipulated these procedures across two conditions in which real or hypothetical rewards were arranged. Six college students participated in daily sessions, in which steady-state discounting of hypothetical and real rewards was assessed. No systematic effects of repeated exposure to hypothetical rewards was detected when compared with first day assessments of discounting. Likewise, no systematic effect of reward type (real versus hypothetical) was detected. When combined with previous research failing to detect a difference between hypothetical and potentially real rewards, these findings suggest that assessing discounting of hypothetical rewards in single sessions is a practical and valid procedure in the study of delay discounting.
Lagorio, C.H., & Madden, G. J. (2005). Delay discounting in human subjects when the consequence of every choice is real. Behavioral Processes, 69, 173-187.