Prospection and the present moment: the role of episodic foresight in intertemporal choices between immediate and delayed rewards

Bulley, Adam, Henry, Julie and Suddendorf, Thomas (2016) Prospection and the present moment: the role of episodic foresight in intertemporal choices between immediate and delayed rewards. Review of General Psychology, 20 1: 29-47. doi:10.1037/gpr0000061


Author Bulley, Adam
Henry, Julie
Suddendorf, Thomas
Title Prospection and the present moment: the role of episodic foresight in intertemporal choices between immediate and delayed rewards
Journal name Review of General Psychology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1089-2680
1939-1552
Publication date 2016-03-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1037/gpr0000061
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 20
Issue 1
Start page 29
End page 47
Total pages 19
Place of publication Washington, DC United States
Publisher American Psychological Association Inc.
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Abstract Humans are capable of imagining future rewards and the contexts in which they may be obtained. Functionally, intertemporal choices between smaller but immediate and larger but delayed rewards may be made without such episodic foresight. However, we propose that explicit simulations of this sort enable more flexible and adaptive intertemporal decision-making. Emotions triggered through the simulation of future situations can motivate people to forego immediate pleasures in the pursuit of long-term rewards. However, we stress that the most adaptive option need not always be a larger later reward. When the future is anticipated to be uncertain, for instance, it may make sense for preferences to shift toward more immediate rewards, instead. Imagining potential future scenarios and assessment of their likelihood and affective consequences allows humans to determine when it is more adaptive to delay gratification in pursuit of a larger later reward, and when the better strategy is to indulge in a present temptation. We discuss clinical studies that highlight when and how the effect of episodic foresight on intertemporal decision-making can be altered, and consider the relevance of this perspective to understanding the nature of self-control.
Keyword Prospection
Evolution
Episodic foresight
Intertemporal choice
Delay discounting
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Psychology Publications
 
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