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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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Symposium #304
Examining the Role of State vs. Trait Variables on Delay Discounting Across Human and Animal Subjects
Sunday, May 30, 2021
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Area: EAB/CBM; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Luis Rodriguez (Idaho State University)

Delay discounting, a behavioral measure of impulsive choice, is the decrease in subjective value of a reward as delay to its receipt increases. Steeper delay discounting has been associated with various health outcomes such as substance use, obesity, problematic gambling, risky sex, etc., and may be an underlying mechanism in the development and maintenance of these maladaptive health behaviors. The discounting literature has as abundance of evidence suggesting that an individual’s sensitivity to delayed outcomes is related to both state and trait properties. The purpose of this symposium is to present new data detailing effects of state and trait properties on delay discounting across rats and humans. The speakers will present data revealing the cross-species trait-like behaviors in the discounting of differing outcomes, the changes in discounting that can be observed across the lifespan and pubertal development, and how altering the verbal context can effect discounting rates across commodities. These results highlight the similarities and differences in trait and state like factors between non-humans and human subjects.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): age, discounting, explicit zero, state trait
Delay Discounting of Food and Water in Rats Shows Trait Characteristics
CAROLINE TOWSE (Utah State University), Jeremy Haynes (Utah State University), Annie Galizio (Utah State University), Charles Casey Joel Frye (Utah State University), Amy Odum (Utah State University)
Abstract: Delay discounting is the tendency for the subjective value of a reward to decrease as the time until receipt increases. It is an important predictor of maladaptive behavior such as substance abuse, problematic gambling, and risky sexual behaviors. Discounting of delayed outcomes appears to have both state and trait properties in humans. State manipulations of discounting (e.g., outcome framing) demonstrate that discounting can be affected by relatively short-term manipulations; however, discounting is also stable within individuals. The present study focuses on examining the trait properties of delay discounting in non-human animals. Long-Evans rats completed a discounting task from approximately 85 post-natal days to 365 days of age with two different commodities, food and water, that alternated daily. Results indicate discounting of water is significantly and positively correlated with discounting of food. Furthermore, delay discounting decreased overall across time. These results replicate prior research with humans, providing evidence of trait-level discounting in rats.
Relation Between Age, Puberty, and Obesity in Food Delay Discounting
YAEEUN LEE (Idaho State University), Erin B. Rasmussen (Idaho State University)
Abstract: No current study has investigated the effects of puberty on impulsivity measured through food delay discounting (DD). Eating patterns during puberty tend to shift toward more adult-like patterns as intake generally increases and maintains during adolescence to accompany growth spurts. The present study examined the relationship between DD for food, age, obesity status measured by percent body fat and body mass index, and puberty status measured by physician-report. Data from an ongoing study with 25 children and 86 adult participants were examined using regression analyses. One-way analysis of variance revealed no significant difference between groups for small (F(3,108)=0.77, p=0.51), medium (F(3,108)=0.83, p=0.48), and large (F(3,108)=1.19, p=0.32) magnitude of food DD. Regression analyses revealed magnitude effects with age identified as a significant predictor for medium (p=0.001) and large (p=0.005) magnitudes of food DD when controlling for puberty status and obesity status.
Extending the Explicit-Zero Effect to Cross-Commodity Discounting: Behavioral Economic and Clinical Relations
GIDEON P NAUDE (Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment (University of Kansas)), David P. Jarmolowicz (Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment (University of Kansas)), Laura Martin (University of Kansas Medical Center, Hoglund Brain Imaging Institute), Andrew T. Fox (Hoglund Brain Imaging Institute (University of Kansas Medical Center)), Derek D. Reed (Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment (University of Kansas))
Abstract: Behavioral economics is a discipline rooted in operant psychology and microeconomics that provides useful tools for understanding factors contributing to maladaptive decision making. The most broadly researched behavioral economic concept is delay discounting and describes the systematic devaluation of outcomes as a function of delays to receipt. Research in this area has revealed robust associations with substance abuse and various other forms of pathological decision making, resulting in productive cross-pollination between behavioral psychology and other natural sciences. The majority of delay discounting research to date has involved asking individuals to choose between a reinforcer now and a larger amount of that same reinforcer after a delay. Real-world choices, however, are frequently more complex and typically involve qualitatively different reinforcers (e.g., alcohol now vs. money later) differing in magnitude and temporal location. It thereby follows that attempts to alter delay discounting should address such decisions as a means of achieving greater ecological validity. Toward this end, the present experiments sought to extend an established method of reducing delay discounting - explicit-zero framing – to cross-commodity discounting. Results indicated that explicit-zero framing extends to non-monetary outcomes across single- and cross-commodity frameworks. Moreover, cross-commodity discounting appeared to better capture relations to the binary components of demand (Persistence and Amplitude) and clinical alcohol-use measures.



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