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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Invited Tutorial #152
CE Offered: PSY
Discounting of Delayed and Probabilistic Gains and Losses: Carving Discounting at its Joints
Sunday, May 24, 2015
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
006AB (CC)
Area: EAB/SCI; Domain: Basic Research
PSY CE Offered. CE Instructor: Leonard Green, Ph.D.
Chair: Federico Sanabria (Arizona State University)
Presenting Authors: : LEONARD GREEN (Washington University), Joel Myerson (Washington University)

People discount the value of delayed or uncertain outcomes, and the same hyperboloid mathematical function describes both delay and probability discounting. Partly for this reason, discounting of delayed outcomes and probabilistic outcomes often is assumed to reflect similar decision-making processes. However, we will show that several manipulations differentially affect how steeply people discount delayed and probabilistic outcomes, as well as the parameters of the discounting function. In addition, we will show that with respect to discounting, losses are not simply the opposite of gains. Finally, we will present data from individuals with medial temporal lobe damage to argue that mental time travel is not required for discounting delayed and probabilistic outcomes. In summary, this tutorial will highlight the similarities and differences between the discounting of delayed and probabilistic gains and losses, as well as the implications of our recent neuropsychological findings for understanding the mechanisms involved (and not involved) in discounting.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

General ABAI attendees, both applied and basic researchers and graduate students

Learning Objectives:
  1. Participants will be able to describe and provide examples of the discounting of delayed and of probabilistic rewards, and state a similarity and a difference in their discounting.
  2. Participants will be able to describe the discounting of gains and losses, and state a similarity and a difference in their discounting.
  3. Participants will be able to discuss the relation of discounting to issues of impulsivity and self-control.
LEONARD GREEN (Washington University), Joel Myerson (Washington University)
Leonard Green received his undergraduate degree from the City College of New York (CCNY) and his Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. After completing post-doctoral research, he ventured west of the Mississippi (despite thinking he still was east of the river) where he is a professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis and director of undergraduate studies. His research concerns choice and decision-making in rats, pigeons, and people, with a particular interest in models of self-control, impulsivity, choice and decision-making. He is one of the developers of "behavioral economics," a transdisciplinary field that combines the experimental methodology of psychology with the theoretical constructs of economics. He is co-author of the book Economic Choice Theory: An Experimental Analysis of Animal Behavior, served as editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, is on the Advisory Board of The Psychological Record, and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning & Cognition. He served on the Executive Board of Society for the Quantitative Analyses of Behavior and was president and chairman of the board of Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. Dr. Green is a Fellow of ABAI and Association for Psychological Science, and president-elect of Division 25 (Behavior Analysis) of APA.
Keyword(s): Delay discounting, Gains-Losses, Mental time, Probability discounting



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