The ability of a reinforcer to maintain behavior decreases as a hyperbolic function of its delay. This discounted value can help explain impulsivity defined as the choice of an immediate, small reinforcer over a delayed, large reinforcer. Human operant studies using consumable reinforcers such as videos have found impulsivity with delays under 1 min. However, measures of discounting rates using questionnaires that dElscribe hypothetical amounts of monetary reinforcers and delays of days, months, or years have found discounting rates that are much too low to explain impulsive choice in operant procedures. A comparison of discounting rates across questionnaire and operant studies indicates that questionnaires produce slower discounting because of the absence of both reinforcement and consumption processes. Combining reinforcement with questions about future reinforcers could facilitate the integration of questionnaire research into a behavioral framework.
Navarick, Douglas J.
"Discounting Of Delayed Reinforcers: Measurement By Questionnaires Versus Operant Choice Procedures,"
The Psychological Record: Vol. 54
, Article 6.
Available at: http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/tpr/vol54/iss1/6