Domain independence and stability in young and older adults' discounting of delayed rewards

Koji Jimura, Joel Myerson, Joseph Hilgard, Julia Keighley, Todd S. Braver, Leonard Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


Individual discounting rates for different types of delayed reward are typically assumed to reflect a single, underlying trait of impulsivity. Recently, we showed that discounting rates are orders of magnitude steeper for directly consumable liquid rewards than for monetary rewards (Jimura et al., 2009), raising the question of whether discounting rates for different types of reward covary at the individual level. Accordingly, the present study examined the relation between discounting of hypothetical money and real liquid rewards in young adults (Experiment 1) and older adults (Experiment 2). At the group level, young adults discounted monetary rewards more steeply than the older adults, but there was no significant age difference with respect to liquid rewards. At the individual level, the rates at which young and older participants discounted each reward type were stable over a two- to fifteen-week interval (rs > 70), but there was no significant correlation between the rates at which they discounted the two reward types. These results suggest that although similar decision-making processes may underlie the discounting of different types of rewards, the rates at which individuals discount money and directly consumable rewards may reflect separate, stable traits, rather than a single trait of impulsivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-259
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural Processes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jul
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Consumable reward
  • Delay discounting
  • Domain independence
  • Monetary reward
  • Stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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