Stuck in Time: Negative income shock constricts the temporal window of valuation spanning the future and the past

Warren K. Bickel, A. George Wilson, Chen Chen, Mikhail N. Koffarnus, Christopher T. Franck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Insufficient resources are associated with negative consequences including decreased valuation of future reinforcers. To determine if these effects result from scarcity, we examined the consequences of acute, abrupt changes in resource availability on delay discounting- the subjective devaluation of rewards as delay to receipt increases. In the current study, 599 individuals recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk read a narrative of a sudden change (positive, neutral, or negative) to one's hypothetical future income and completed a delay discounting task examining future and past monetary gains and losses. The effects of the explicit zero procedure, a framing manipulation,was also examined. Negative income shock significantly increased discounting rates for gains and loses occurring both in the future and the past. Positive income windfalls significantly decreased discounting to a lesser extent. The framing procedure significantly reduced discounting under all conditions. Negative income shocks may result in short-Termchoices.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0163051
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
National Institute on Drug Abuse No. R01DA034755.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Bickel et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)
  • General


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