Impulsive choice and workplace safety: A new area of inquiry for research in occupational settings

Brady Reynolds, Ryan M. Schiffbauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A conceptual argument is presented for the relevance of behavior-analytic research on impulsive choice to issues of occupational safety and health. Impulsive choice is defined in terms of discounting, which is the tendency for the value of a commodity to decrease as a function of various parameters (e.g., having to wait or expend energy to receive the commodity). A high degree of discounting is often considered an index of impulsivity. We argue that for workers, possible negative consequences (e.g., injury or disease) are often disregarded, or discounted, in choices about work-place safety because such consequences are typically delayed and uncertain. Furthermore, some evidence suggests that certain environmental conditions, such as those that lead to stress or sleep deprivation, may increase discounting. Increased discounting, by extension, leads to a further de-valuation of safety practices and their benefits. A call is made for research aimed at more clearly delineating the relation between impulsive choice and workplace safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-246
Number of pages8
JournalBehavior Analyst
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004


  • Choice
  • Discounting
  • Health
  • Impulsivity
  • Occupational safety
  • Workers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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