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Document Type

Article

Abstract

Delay of Gratification (DG) and Delay Discounting (DO) represent two indices of impulsive behavior often treated as though they represent equivalent or the same underlying processes. However, there are key differences between DG and DO procedures, and between certain research findings with each procedure, that suggest they are not equivalent. In the current article, evidence is presented to support the argument that DG and DO measure discrete, yet related, processes involved in delayrelated impulsive behavior. Also presented is a theoretical "feedback model" for the relation between DG and DO. In the model, it is proposed that the processes measured by DG are less cognitive and less learning-mediated than those measured by DO. However, as proposed, ability to sustain choices for delayed rewards (DG) is still represented in the choice processes measured by DO through an individual's learning history with DG types of situations; that is, the less a person is able to sustain choices for delayed rewards the more likely he or she will be to choose immediate rewards when given choices between larger delayed and smaller but more immediate options. The proposed model is consonant with observed consistencies and differences between DG and DO measures. From the proposed model, new research questions arise that would be lost in a continued conceptualization of DG and DO as equivalent measures.

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