Temporal Discounting Preferences as an Index of Rational Thinking
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Temporal discounting refers to a preference for smaller sooner rewards over larger delayed rewards. We explored temporal discounting as a construct of rational thinking in emerging adults. In Study One, we examined individual differences in temporal discounting using three paradigms. In Study Two, we examined whether providing explanations to wait for larger rewards and to respond consistently would result in more willingness to wait and greater response consistency. Willingness to wait was associated with higher intellectual ability and various thinking dispositions, especially during choices with high rates of return. When provided with reasons to choose delayed rewards and to choose consistently, a significant proportion of individuals displayed increased willingness to wait and response consistency. Results suggest that temporal discounting preferences may be a useful index of rational decision-making. Broader implications of our results are discussed.