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Logo of jeabehavJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior Web SiteSubscriber LoginJournal of Applied Behavior Analysis Web SiteSubscription InformationInformation for AuthorsJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior Web Site
 
J Exp Anal Behav. Jan 1972; 17(1): 15–22.
PMCID: PMC1333886
Commitment, choice and self-control1
Howard Rachlin and Leonard Green
1This research was supported by National Science Foundation Research Grant GB20802. The authors are grateful to Robert Liebert for his help and criticism. Reprints may be obtained from Howard Rachlin, Psychology Department, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York, 11790.
Abstract
When offered a choice (Choice Y) between a small immediate reward (2-sec exposure to grain) and a large reward (4-sec exposure to grain) delayed by 4 sec, pigeons invariably preferred the small, immediate reward. However, when offered a choice (Choice X) between a delay of T seconds followed by Choice Y and a delay of T seconds followed by restriction to the large delayed reward only, the pigeon's choice depended on T. When T was small, the pigeons chose the alternative leading to Choice Y (and then chose the small, immediate reward). When T was large, the pigeons chose the alternative leading to the large delayed reward only. The reversal of preference as T increases is predicted by several recent models for choice between various amounts and delays of reward. The preference for the large delayed alternative with long durations of T parallels everyday instances of advance commitment to a given course of action. Such commitment may be seen as a prototype for self-control.
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