RISC Principal Scholar co-leads a large scale research on temporal discounting

Dr. Shayna Rosenbaum, Professor of Psychology and RISC Principal Scholar, has co-authored an article in Nature Human Behaviour on the phenomenon of temporal discounting across the globe

A woman with curly brown hair smiling for the camera

Shayna Rosenbaum

Why many of us would often prefer smaller and immediate gains over larger and delayed ones? Does the reason lie in choice preferences, social norms, or simply in inadequate resources for immediate needs? These are some of the important questions that Dr. Rosenbaum and her co-authores have tackled using local currencies and value standards in the context of 61 countries and 13,629 participants across the globe. The results have been published in Nature Human Behaviour.

A remarkable finding of this large-scale study is the noticeable consistency and robustness in patterns of intertemporal choice across all 61 countries, with substantially more variability within each country than between the countries. The co-authors stress that "while intertemporal discounting may be stronger in worse financial circumstances, particularly those with poorer economic outlooks, it exists in all locations." This, clearly, undermines the belief that low-income individuals are apriori "unstable decision makers" and are, therefore, poor loanees, mortgagees, and insureds. The full paper can be found here.