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Frontiers Media S.A
Frontiers in Psychology
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Delay discounting refers to the reduction of the value of a future reward as the delay to that reward increases. The rate at which individuals discount future rewards varies as a function of both individual and contextual differences, and high delay discounting rates have been linked with problematic behaviors, including drug abuse and gambling. The current study investigated the effects of acute anticipatory stress on delay discounting, while considering two important factors: individual perceptions of stress and whether the stressful situation is future-focused or present-focused. Half of the participants experienced acute stress by anticipating giving a videotaped speech. This stress was either future-oriented (speech about future job) or present-oriented (speech about physical appearance). They then performed a delay discounting task, in which they chose between smaller, immediate rewards, and larger, delayed rewards.Their scores on the Perceived Stress Scale were also collected. The way in which one appraises stressful situations interacts with acute stress to influence choices; under stressful conditions, delay discounting rate was highest in individuals with low trait perceived stress and lowest for individuals with high trait perceived stress. This result might be related to individual variation in reward responsiveness under stress. Furthermore, the time orientation of the task interacted with its stressfulness to affect the individual’s propensity to choose immediate rewards. These findings add to our understanding of the intermediary factors between stress and decision-making.
Lempert, Karolina M.; Porcelli, Anthony J.; Delgado, Mauricio R.; and Tricomi, Elizabeth, "Individual Differences in Delay Discounting Under Acute Stress: The Role of Trait Perceived Stress" (2012). Psychology Faculty Research and Publications. 72.