Economics and Finance


Loss of Self-Control in Intertemporal Choice May be Attributable to Logarithmic Time-Perception

Authors: Taiki Takahashi

Impulsivity and loss of self-control in drug-dependent patients have been associated with the manner in which they discount delayed rewards. Although drugs of abuse have been shown to modify perceived time duration, little is known regarding the relationship between impulsive decision-making in intertemporal choice and estimation of time-duration. In classical economic theory, it has been hypothesized that people discount future reward value exponentially. In exponential discounting, a temporal discounting rate is constant over time, which has been referred to as dynamic consistency. However, accumulating empirical evidence in biology, psychopharmacology, behavioral neuroscience, and neuroeconomics does not support the hypothesis. Rather, dynamically inconsistent manners of discounting delayed rewards, e.g., hyperbolic discounting, have been repeatedly observed in humans and non-human animals. In spite of recent advances in neuroimaging and neuropsychopharmacological study, the reason why humans and animals discount delayed rewards hyperbolically is unknown. In this study, we hypothesized that empirically-observed dynamical inconsistency in intertemporal choice may result from errors in the perception of time duration. It is proposed that perception of temporal duration following Weber's law might explain the dynamical inconsistency. Possible future study directions for elucidating neural mechanisms underlying inconsistent intertemporal choice are discussed.

Comments: 7 Pages.

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[v1] 2013-02-09 11:46:12

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