Carla Martinez-Perez '21 is a senior undergraduate student with a major in Psychology and a minor in Biology. She is interested in learning about impulsivity and how it is related to delay discounting in both humans and nonhuman subjects. She hopes to expand on this area of research with her Senior Year Experience project. After graduation she plans to continue her interest in research during graduate school in which she hopes to focus on substance abuse.
Previous research suggests that consistent preference for smaller, sooner rewards over larger, later rewards is associated with a host of maladaptive health-related behaviors. Non-human and humans studies have shown that chronic exposure to immediate rewards increases the consistent preference for smaller, sooner rewards. For all experiments, human participants were exposed to acute delay exposure via a series of surveys based on assigned conditions: delay exposure, immediate exposure, or standard control. In Experiment 1, participants had points as their reinforcers after completing the delayed discounting task. In Experiment 2, participants had a fixed amount of monetary value as their reinforcers. Lastly, both experiments were grouped together in order to analyze any differences in discounting values between different reinforcers. Our results indicate that participants in the immediate exposure group in Experiment 1 discounted more than participants in the delayed exposure and standard control groups. In Experiment 2, male participants in the immediate exposure group discounted more than the female participants of the same group. When the data is combined we see that regardless if points or money, those in the immediate exposure group discount more steeply than the participants in the other two conditions. The key component of these results suggests that immediate exposure increases preferences of smaller, sooner rewards and suggests further research should be made on interventions that decrease this behavior.