Delay or probability discounting in a model of impulsive behavior: Effect of alcohol

Jerry B. Richards, Lan Zhang, Suzanne H. Mitchell, Harriet De Wit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

502 Scopus citations

Abstract

Little is known about the acute effects of drugs of abuse on impulsivity and self-control. In this study, impulsivity was assessed in humans using a computer task that measured delay and probability discounting. Discounting describes how much the value of a reward (or punisher) is decreased when its occurrence is either delayed or uncertain. Twenty-four healthy adult volunteers ingested a moderate dose of ethanol (0.5 or 0.8 g/kg ethanol; n = 12 at each dose) or placebo before completing the discounting task. In the task the participants were given a series of choices between a small, immediate, certain amount of money and $10 that was either delayed (0, 2, 30, 180, or 365 days) or probabilistic (i.e., certainty of receipt was 1.0, .9, .75, .5, or .25). The point at which each individual was indifferent between the smaller immediate or certain reward and the $10 delayed or probabilistic reward was identified using an adjusting-amount procedure. The results indicated that (a) delay and probability discounting were well described by a hyperbolic function; (b) delay and probability discounting were positively correlated within subjects; (c) delay and probability discounting were moderately correlated with personality measures of impulsivity; and (d) alcohol had no effect on discounting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-143
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of the experimental analysis of behavior
Volume71
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1999

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Choice
  • Delay discounting
  • Humans
  • Impulsivity
  • Probability discounting
  • Self-control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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