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J Exp Anal Behav. 1991 Mar;55(2):233-44.

Subjective probability and delay.

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  • 1Psychology Department, State University of New York, Stony Brook 11794.


Human subjects indicated their preference between a hypothetical $1,000 reward available with various probabilities or delays and a certain reward of variable amount available immediately. The function relating the amount of the certain-immediate reward subjectively equivalent to the delayed $1,000 reward had the same general shape (hyperbolic) as the function found by Mazur (1987) to describe pigeons' delay discounting. The function relating the certain-immediate amount of money subjectively equivalent to the probabilistic $1,000 reward was also hyperbolic, provided that the stated probability was transformed to odds against winning. In a second experiment, when human subjects chose between a delayed $1,000 reward and a probabilistic $1,000 reward, delay was proportional to the same odds-against transformation of the probability to which it was subjectively equivalent.

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