Princeton University Library Catalog

Me, Wait, for What?!: The Effects of Identity Salience and Decision Domain on Intertemporal Choice

Chen, Helen [Browse]
Senior thesis
Conway, Andrew [Browse]
Dunham, Yarrow [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Psychology [Browse]
Class year:
112 pages
Restrictions note:
Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Summary note:
Intertemporal choice (ITC) decisions involve tradeoffs between options whose outcomes occur at different points in time. The act of choosing among ITC options is known as discounting because delayed options are discounted relative to more immediate ones. The literature suggests individuals demonstrate tremendous variability in discounting. We investigate the individual roles and functional interdependence of two potential sources of this intra-individual variance: Decision domain and the decision maker's salient identity. In two experiments, we primed individuals for various social identities and observed discounting across various domains. We show that decision domain independently influences ITC but fail to show this effect for identity salience. Instead, we demonstrate that the effect of identity salience on ITC depends on decision domain and that it is the interaction between the two that ultimately drives discounting behavior. Specifically, changes in identity salience can lead the same individual to discount the same good at different rates and can change the relationship between discounting behavior for goods in different domains. Furthermore, we show that temptation towards a specific good underlies discounting behavior for some goods but not others and provide preliminary evidence for a multi-dimensional view of discounting. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.