Is It Time? Examining the Effects of Episodic Imagining on Reward Discounting
Mok, Jenkin Ngo Yin
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Mental time-travel affords us the ability to simulate hypothetical episodes that shape our decisions about the future, as documented on tests of intertemporal choice where personal cueing greatly reduces future reward discounting. Despite this robust finding, it is unclear whether this modulatory effect is due to the induction of episodic imagining. If so, the effect should not generalize to forms of discounting that are without a temporal component. To test this, young healthy adults completed a temporal discounting task and a non-temporal, probability discounting task with and without personal cues. Contrary to the results from delay discounting, no differences in probability discounting were observed between the cued and baseline versions. The results suggest a specific interaction between episodic imagining and future-oriented judgements that is not seen in all forms of decision-making, extending our understanding of the limits within which episodic cueing guides personal, financial choices.