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J Exp Anal Behav. 2003 Jan;79(1):37-48.

Building blocks of self-control: increased tolerance for delay with bundled rewards.

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Department of Psychiatry, Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Temple University, Pennsylvania 19320, USA.


Impulsive choice can be defined as temporary preference for a smaller-sooner reward (SS) over a larger-later reward (LL). Hyperbolic discounting implies that impulsive choices will occur less when organisms choose between a series of SSs versus LLs all at once than when they choose between single SS versus LL pairs. Eight rats were exposed to two conditions of an intertemporal choice paradigm using sucrose solution as reward. In both conditions, the LL was 150 microl delayed by 3 s, while the SS was an immediate reward that ranged from 25-150 microl across sessions. Preference for the LL was greater when the chosen reward was automatically delivered three times in succession (bundled) than when it was chosen singly and delivered after each choice. For each of the 8 rats, the estimated SS amount that produced indifference was higher in the bundled condition than in the single condition. Because bundling in humans may be based on the perception that one's current choice is predictive of future choices, the data presented here may demonstrate an important building block of self-control.

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