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Impatience and grades: Delay-discount rates correlate negatively with college GPA

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  • Gordon C. Winston
  • Kris N. Kirby
  • Mariana Santiesteban

Abstract

Because the rewards of academic performance in college are often delayed, the delay-discounting model of impulsiveness (Ainslie, 1975) predicts that academic performance should tend to decrease as people place less weight on future outcomes. To test this hypothesis, we estimated (hyperbolic) discount rates for real delayed monetary rewards ($10 to $20) using second-price auction procedures with 247 undergraduates at two liberal arts colleges. College GPA was reliably correlated with discount rates, r = -.19 (p = .003), and remained reliable after partialling out SAT scores. The results add to the external validity of the discounting model of impulsiveness, and point to a possible contributor to academic performance of interest in the study of higher education.

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File URL: http://sites.williams.edu/wpehe/files/2011/06/DP-63.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Williams College in its series Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education with number DP-63.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: May 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in Learning and Individual Differences, Volume 15, Issue 3, 2005, pp. 213-22.
Handle: RePEc:wil:wilehe:63

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Cited by:
  1. Gordon Winston & David Zimmerman, 2004. "Peer Effects in Higher Education," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 395-424 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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