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The surprisingly low motivational power of future rewards: Comparing conventional money-based measures of discounting with motivation-based measures

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  • Ebert, Jane E.J.

Abstract

Temporal discount rates are often poor predictors of behaviors that we expect will be motivated by the future. The current research suggests this may be because conventional discounting measures are poor measures of the motivational value of future rewards. In six studies, I develop motivation-based measures of the present value (PV) of future rewards and compare the PVs obtained with those obtained using conventional money-based discounting measures. Conventional money-based PVs consistently overestimate motivation-based PVs and are discriminable from them. I explore explanations for this mismatch, including timing of effort exertion (Study 2) and loss aversion (Study 3), both features of the motivation-based measures. In Study 5, I use self-reports of valuation strategies and a time pressure manipulation to demonstrate that participants use different valuation strategies in the conventional money-based and the motivation-based measures that, in part, determine the difference in PVs obtained and the relatively low correspondence between them.

Suggested Citation

  • Ebert, Jane E.J., 2010. "The surprisingly low motivational power of future rewards: Comparing conventional money-based measures of discounting with motivation-based measures," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 111(2), pages 71-92, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:111:y:2010:i:2:p:71-92
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    References listed on IDEAS

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