Temporal discounting refers to an individuals’ tendency to value immediate rewards over larger future rewards. Increased discounting has been associated with a host of detrimental outcomes, including higher risk of addiction, mental health symptom severity, social functioning deficits, and poorer overall health status. In part because of their association with important outcomes at the individual level, discount rates are frequently considered to reflect relatively stable individual differences in intertemporal choice preferences. A growing body of evidence, however, demonstrates that preferences for future versus immediate rewards can be shaped by contextual factors, including one’s current feelings. For example, data from an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) study we recently completed demonstrated that factors such as incidental affective feelings (e.g., feelings of pleasantness and activation), as well as the awareness of ongoing bodily activity (e.g., breathing and heart rate) are significantly associated with a person’s intertemporal choice preference in the moment.
Here, we intend to again employ EMA to sample individuals’ discount rates across multiple and diverse contexts throughout their daily lives. Participants will make an intertemporal choice several times each day over a 7-day period, from which we will calculate their discount rate at that moment. In addition, they will report their current affect in terms of valence (i.e., pleasantness/unpleasantness) and arousal (i.e., activation/deactivation) and their awareness of ongoing bodily activity (e.g., their breathing and heart rate) as ongoing bodily activity is theorized to be strongly associated with affective experience. Throughout the study, we will also monitor participants’ ongoing physiological activity: heart rate, interbeat interval, and oxygen saturation using the Garmin Vivosmart 4 device. This will allow us to assess associations between momentary discount rates and current subjective experience (i.e., self-reported affect and body awareness) as well as objective changes in peripheral physiology that have been associated with affect.
In Ewa's research, she tries to understand how people make decisions – individually and in groups – in a variety of contexts: personal, managerial, ethical, etc. She is particularly interested in uncovering the mechanisms behind intuitive decision-making, and how they can complement more deliberate, analytical thinking. Her previous academic background is in neuroscience and behavioural sciences, with focus on cognitive and social psychology. Before joining IESE, she worked for several years as a data scientist in London, analyzing digital behaviour data to uncover patterns in how people search for information and navigate the web.