Towards an incentive salience model of intertemporal choice
This theoretical paper presents an incentive salience model of intertemporal choice. The model is a variation of the quasi-hyperbolic discounting model. Based on the distinction between ‘wanting’ and ‘liking’, the paper presents one possible explanation of impulsive choices of smaller sooner rewards instead of larger later ones. These impulsive choices are induced by cues that trigger strong motivational ‘wanting’ to obtain smaller sooner rewards, but do not necessarily influence the degree to which the rewards are ‘liked’. Cue-triggered ‘wanting’ can occur when an individual is in a specific need deprivation state, perceives a cue previously associated with an immediately obtainable reward, knows that the cued reward can reduce the current deprivation state, and lacks self-control. Attributable to the integration of cue-triggered ‘wanting’ into an intertemporal choice model, the incentive salience can account for anomalies in intertemporal choice such as present-biased preferences and the domain effect.
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