Automatic Biases in Intertemporal Choice

AbstractResearch on intertemporal choice has suggested that decision processes automatically favor immediate rewards. In this paper, we use a drift diffusion model to conceptualize and empirically investigate the role of these biases. Our model permits automatic biases in the response process, automatic biases in the evaluation process, as well as differential weighting for monetary payoffs and time delays. We fit our model to individual-level choice and response time data, and find that automatic biases are prevalent in intertemporal choice, but that the type, magnitude, and direction of these biases vary greatly across individuals. Our results pose new challenges for theories of intertemporal choice behavior.

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