Article

Decision makers calibrate behavioral persistence on the basis of time-interval experience

Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, 3720 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Cognition (Impact Factor: 3.63). 04/2012; 124(2):216-26. DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2012.03.008
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

A central question in intertemporal decision making is why people reverse their own past choices. Someone who initially prefers a long-run outcome might fail to maintain that preference for long enough to see the outcome realized. Such behavior is usually understood as reflecting preference instability or self-control failure. However, if a decision maker is unsure exactly how long an awaited outcome will be delayed, a reversal can constitute the rational, utility-maximizing course of action. In the present behavioral experiments, we placed participants in timing environments where persistence toward delayed rewards was either productive or counterproductive. Our results show that human decision makers are responsive to statistical timing cues, modulating their level of persistence according to the distribution of delay durations they encounter. We conclude that temporal expectations act as a powerful and adaptive influence on people's tendency to sustain patient decisions.

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    • "In accordance with the modified hyperbolic discounting equation, many recent studies have indicated that temporal processing, for example, may play a critical role in impulsive choice behavior (Marshall et al. 2014; Baumann and Odum 2012; Cheng 1992; Galtress et al. 2012; McClure et al. 2014; McGuire and Kable 2012; Wittmann and Paulus 2008; Smith et al. 2015; Zauberman et al. 2009). How one understands and perceives time, may affect timing abilities and the subjective value of rewards. "

    Full-text · Dataset · Nov 2015
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    • "In accordance with the modified hyperbolic discounting equation, many recent studies have indicated that temporal processing, for example, may play a critical role in impulsive choice behavior (Marshall et al. 2014; Baumann and Odum 2012; Cheng 1992; Galtress et al. 2012; McClure et al. 2014; McGuire and Kable 2012; Wittmann and Paulus 2008; Smith et al. 2015; Zauberman et al. 2009). How one understands and perceives time, may affect timing abilities and the subjective value of rewards. "

    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization
    • "Under the latter circumstance, one can turn to temporal expectations derived and updated from experience. Recent studies have shown that persistence when waiting for an event to occur is strongly dependent upon expectations of the delay duration (McGuire and Kable, 2013) Decision-makers adjust their persistence dynamically based on the experienced statistical distribution of delays (McGuire and Kable, 2012). Relevant to the present work, insufficient sleep can affect decision-making negatively by impairing our ability to integrate prior outcome information accurately into later decisions (Olson et al., 2014; Whitney et al., 2015). "
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    ABSTRACT: We frequently encounter decisions where we have to determine whether to wait for a certain reward delayed for an uncertain duration or to move on. The appropriate decision depends upon the underlying temporal distribution of the delay. With some distributions it is best to be completely persistent, whereas in others it is more appropriate to abandon waiting after a certain period of time. The current study examined whether the ability to form temporal expectations and adjust persistence accordingly is compromised by sleep deprivation. Participants performed a willingness-to-wait task either in a well-rested state or after a night of total sleep deprivation. Participants had to decide either to wait for a larger reward or to abandon waiting in favour of a smaller immediate reward. Delays were drawn from either a uniform distribution, where being persistent yields maximal returns, or from a heavy-tailed distribution, where occasional long delays render full persistence suboptimal. In spite of increased sleepiness and decreased vigilance, sleep-deprived participants were able to adjust waiting time appropriate to the experienced timing distribution. Additionally, sleep deprivation did not affect the foreperiod effect, indicating intact perception of conditional probability of temporal events and ability to adjust preparation accordingly. © 2015 European Sleep Research Society.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Journal of Sleep Research
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