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J Exp Psychol Gen. 1999 Mar;128(1):78-87.

Heroin addicts have higher discount rates for delayed rewards than non-drug-using controls.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Bronfman Science Center, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts 01267, USA. kkirby@williams.edu

Abstract

Fifty-six heroin addicts and 60 age-matched controls were offered choices between monetary rewards ($11-$80) available immediately and larger rewards ($25-$85) available after delays ranging from 1 week to 6 months. Participants had a 1-in-6 chance of winning a reward that they chose on one randomly selected trial. Delay-discounting rates were estimated from the pattern of participants' choices. The discounting model of impulsiveness (Ainslie, 1975) implies that delay-discounting rates are positively correlated with impulsiveness. On average, heroin addicts' discount rates were twice those of controls (p = .004), and discount rates were positively correlated with impulsivity as measured by self-report questionnaires (p < .05). The results lend external validity to the delay-discounting rate as a measure of impulsiveness, a characteristic associated with substance abuse.

PMID:
10100392
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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