Waiting in inter-temporal choice tasks affects discounting and subjective time perception

Ping Xu, Benjamin Vincent, Claudia Gonzalez-Vallejo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
1158 Downloads (Pure)


The literature on human delay discounting behavior is dominated by experimental paradigms, which do not impose actual delays. Given that waiting may be aversive even on short timescales, we present a novel delay discounting paradigm to study differences in delay discounting behavior either when real waiting is involved, or not. This paradigm retains the fundamental trade-off between rewards received versus their immediacy. We used hierarchical Bayesian modeling to decompose and test models that separate discounting and subjective time perception mechanisms. We report 2 experiments that also explore the magnitude effect and gain-loss asymmetry. In both experiments, we found greater discounting and nonlinear (convex) time perception in the online waiting task, which required waiting after each choice, compared to a control condition where waiting was deferred until the end of the experiment. Discounting was also measured by a parameter of a hyperbolic-type model and related to reversals of preference between initial desire to wait and then not doing so. These results from our novel paradigm support the emerging view that subjective time perception plays an important role in intertemporal choice in addition to discounting tendencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2289-2313
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number12
Early online date11 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Dynamic preference reversal
  • Experience time discounting
  • Magnitude effect
  • Sign effect
  • Time perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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