Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #237
Delay Discounting in Health with a Focus on Food and Exercise
Sunday, May 28, 2017
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom B/C
Area: EAB/CBM; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Erin B. Rasmussen (Idaho State University)
Abstract: This symposium will report on three studies that relate to behavioral processes involved in maintaining a health lifestyle. One study will report on the effects of exercise on delay discounting (Sofis). The other two will report on studies that involve delay discounting processes for food and other outcomes. Robertson will describe a study that compares discounting for hypothetical vs. potentially real food outcomes. Finally, DeHart will report on magnitude effects in discounting (the tendency for smaller amounts to be discounted more steeply than larger amounts) with an experiment in which the magnitude of food and other outcomes is manipulated. Together, these studies have implications for decision-making in health, in particular obesity.
Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): delay discounting, exercise, food, health
Maintained Physical Activity Induced Changes in Delay Discounting
MICHAEL SOFIS (The University of Kansas), Ale Carrillo (The University of Kansas), David P. Jarmolowicz (The University of Kansas)
Abstract: Those who discount the subjective value of delayed rewards less steeply are more likely to engage in physical activity. There is limited research, however, showing whether physical activity can change rates of delay discounting. In a two-experiment series, treatment and maintenance effects of a novel, effort-paced physical activity intervention on delay discounting were evaluated with multiple baseline designs. Using a lap-based method, participants were instructed to exercise at individualized high and low effort-levels and to track their own perceived effort. The results suggest that treatment-induced changes in discounting were maintained at follow-up for 13 of 16 participants. In Experiment 2, there were statistically significant group-level improvements in physical activity and delay discounting when comparing baseline to both treatment and maintenance phases. Percentage change in delay discounting was significantly correlated with session attendance and relative pace (min/mile) improvement over the course of the 7-week treatment. Implications for future research are discussed.

Comparison of Potentially Real Versus Hypothetical Outcomes on Delay Discounting for Food

STEPHEN H. ROBERTSON (Idaho State University), Dianna Simonson (Idaho State University), Andra Cates (Idaho State University), Bailey Perschon (Idaho State University), Erin B. Rasmussen (Idaho State University)

Studies comparing hypothetical vs. real monetary outcomes have repeatedly demonstrated that they are discounted similarly; however, one study has documented that cigarette smokers discount potentially real cigarettes steeper than hypothetical cigarettes. This finding raises the possibility that delay discounting tasks for consumable items may differ as a function of hypothetical and potentially real outcome type. This study tested the extent to which delay discounting differed for potentially real food outcomes vs. hypothetical food outcomes. We recruited 119 undergraduates and used a within-subjects design in which individuals completed one delay discounting task for hypothetical food outcomes and one for potentially real food outcomes. A dependent samples t-test revealed no significant difference. More importantly, potentially real and hypothetical outcomes were significantly correlated. These results offer evidence that outcome type (i.e. potentially real vs. hypothetical) may not play a strong role in the results of delay discounting tasks using food-related outcomes.

Delay Discounting of Non-Monetary Outcomes: The Effects of Different Magnitudes and Delay Distributions
WILLIAM DEHART (Utah State University), Charles Frye (Utah State University), Annie Galizio (Utah State University), Jeremy Haynes (Utah State University), Amy Odum (Utah State University)
Abstract: Delay discounting describes the process by which an outcome loses value as the temporal receipt to that outcome increases. A common finding in delay discounting literature is the magnitude effect where larger amounts of money are discounted less than smaller amounts of money. This effect has been demonstrated across a large range of amounts (e.g., $10 to $10 million). Research also demonstrates that delayed monetary outcomes are discounted less than delayed non-monetary outcomes such as food. Several explanations for this difference in discounting exist including the perishability of the outcome, the ability to consume all of the outcome at one time, and differences in the motivation to maximize that outcome. It is less clear how different magnitudes of non-monetary outcomes are discounted and current evidence suggests that the magnitude effect is not found in non-monetary outcomes. We report the findings of multiple studies using human participants that investigate the delay discounting of different amounts of non-monetary outcomes such as food using different delay scales. We also attempt to incorporate individual differences in the motivation to maximize different outcomes. Our results suggest that magnitude effects may exist in non-monetary outcomes under the correct parameters.



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