Carla Patrakis

University of New Hampshire

Psychology


2001

Mentor: Dr. Amy Odum, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Temporal Discounting of Different Outcomes by Normal, Healthy Volunteers

The purpose of this study was to find out how people value different types of outcomes that are available after different amounts of delay. People tend to discount addictive substances more steeply than money. The reasons are unclear. One possible reason is the addictive properties associated with drugs of abuse. A second possible reason is that money is a general reinforcer exchangeable for a wide variety of goods and services, whereas drugs of abuse have specific uses. Participants completed questionnaires about their eating, gambling, and drinking practices. Those who had scores within normal limits completed three conditions. I compared levels of discounting between a general reinforcer, money; and two specific reinforcers, alcohol and food. I anticipate that participants will show a hyperbolic function for all three conditions. I also anticipate that alcohol will be discounted more steeply than money or food.

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