Language and Discounting Behavior
AuthorBrown, Thomas Wade
AdvisorAlavosius, Mark P.
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Subjective devaluation of hypothetical outcomes is a widely used metric in the fields of behavioral economics and the experimental analysis of behavior to detect the presence of impulsive behavioral characteristics. While discounting trends are long assumed to be relatively stable patterns of behavior, recent evidence suggests that discounting curves are subject to contextual conditions, either inherent within the experimental task or the surrounding environment. Researchers note that the frame of the task is vitally important to the results obtained from the procedure, but few have examined or manipulated the functional verbal relations present in these tasks. The present dissertation describes a series of investigations on how discounting behavior varies as a function of the language used to describe the task. New measurement methodologies are described, and a program of study is articulated for single-subject analysis of delay discounting.