Norwegian version

Subjective discounting of delayed rewards

The project examines preference for immediate versus delayed rewards in animal models and in humans to identify variables that control choice.

Reduced tolerance for delayed rewards is linked to various psychiatric diagnoses, gambling, drug addiction and to lifestyle and social challenges such as exercise, smoking, diet and environmental behavior.

Many people recognize "One burger only today, from tomorrow it's over", "One more cigarette cannot hurt, I'm going to quit" or "Just one more Netflix episode, then I'll work».

The best choice in the long run is usually the larger delayed rewards that over time provide for example good health, finances and professional success.

The project aims to uncover mechanisms underlying the choice of immediate rewards over future, larger rewards in animals and humans.

This insight can be incorporated into interventions for the prevention and treatment of problems to help people make choices that are better for them in the long run.

  • Participants

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  • More about the project

    Decision-making processes that deal with delayed rewards or consequences can have a direct impact on everything from personal health and finances to environmental conservation and societal costs.

    Reduced tolerance for exposed consequences is a core problem in many disorders and problems such as ADHD, gambling addiction and drug addiction, and lifestyle and social problems such as exercise, smoking, diet, excessive smartphone use and environmental behavior.

    By studying how humans and animals evaluate and often choose immediate rewards over larger, delayed rewards, the project aim is to uncover the underlying mechanisms that govern such behavior.

    This insight has important implications for how society approaches everything from addiction to financial planning, and thus provides the basis for more effective measures and policies that serve both individuals and society as a whole.

    Well-controlled studies with a large degree of experimental control are important in order to uncover variables that control the choice of immediate rewards over larger, delayed rewards.

    Through well-controlled model studies of bumblebees, rats and humans, the project seeks to identify important controlling variables and to explore learning principles across species and species-specific adaptations.

    The exploration of delayed rewards through animal experiments is not only a step towards understanding basic biological and behavioral mechanisms, but can also provide increased scientific insight with a practical, positive impact on society.

    Ongoing sub-project

    The project investigates choices between a small, immediate reward and a larger delayed reward in bumblebees, rats and humans to identify controlling variables, general learning principles and species-specific adaptations, and aims to use this knowledge to develop training procedures to increase tolerance for delayed rewards.

    The studies of animal models are carried out at the bumblebee laboratory (The BeeHavior lab) and the rat laboratory.

    Completed sub-projects

    • Elise Frølich Furrebøe, PhD project: Impulsivity and Procrastination: Examining the Reinforcing Contingencies of Delay Discounting in Humans.
    • Espen Wilner Sjøberg, PhD project: Refining animal model methodology: The delay discounting procedure and measuring impulsivity in the Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat, an animal model of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
    • Ina Berby, master's project: Delay discounting in bumblebees (bombus terrestris): Methodological development and refinement.