Are the decisions that we make for others less impulsive than for ourselves?

Ziegler, Fenja and Tunney, Richard (2012) Are the decisions that we make for others less impulsive than for ourselves? In: Experimental Psychology Society Meeting, 11-13 April 2012, University of Hull.

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Official URL: http://www.eps.ac.uk/index.php/past-meetings-2003-...

Abstract

People tend to prefer a smaller immediate reward to a larger but delayed reward. Although this discounting of future rewards is often associated with impulsivity, it is not necessarily irrational. Parfit (1984) suggested instead that it reflects the decision maker's greater interest in the 'me now' than the 'me in 10 years', such that the concern for our future self is about the same as for someone else who is close to us. To investigate this we used a delay-discounting task to compare discount functions for choices that people would make for themselves against decisions that they would make for other people, e.g. accept $500 now or $1000 next week. The psychological distance of the hypothetical beneficiaries was manipulated in terms of Wright's (1921) coefficient of relatedness ranging from zero (e.g. a stranger, or unrelated close friend), .125 (e.g. a cousin), .25 (e.g. a nephew or niece), to .5 (parent or sibling). The observed discount functions were steeper (i.e. more impulsive) for choices in which the decision-maker was the beneficiary than for all other beneficiaries, that is, choices made for other people tended to be less impulsive. Implications for Parfitt’s and decision theories in general will be discussed.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information:People tend to prefer a smaller immediate reward to a larger but delayed reward. Although this discounting of future rewards is often associated with impulsivity, it is not necessarily irrational. Parfit (1984) suggested instead that it reflects the decision maker's greater interest in the 'me now' than the 'me in 10 years', such that the concern for our future self is about the same as for someone else who is close to us. To investigate this we used a delay-discounting task to compare discount functions for choices that people would make for themselves against decisions that they would make for other people, e.g. accept $500 now or $1000 next week. The psychological distance of the hypothetical beneficiaries was manipulated in terms of Wright's (1921) coefficient of relatedness ranging from zero (e.g. a stranger, or unrelated close friend), .125 (e.g. a cousin), .25 (e.g. a nephew or niece), to .5 (parent or sibling). The observed discount functions were steeper (i.e. more impulsive) for choices in which the decision-maker was the beneficiary than for all other beneficiaries, that is, choices made for other people tended to be less impulsive. Implications for Parfitt’s and decision theories in general will be discussed.
Keywords:behavioural economics, decision making, delay discounting, kinship
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C830 Experimental Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:5640
Deposited By: Fenja Ziegler
Deposited On:22 May 2012 21:20
Last Modified:23 May 2012 06:09

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