People often have to consider and compare the importance of different things that occur at different time points and then make decisions. When making intertemporal choices, individuals have to choose between a smaller and sooner reward (SS) and a larger and later reward (LL). Pregnancy as a critical life event inevitably comes with a series of physiological and psychological changes. We hypothesized that such changes would make the pregnant women more future oriented and hence would reduce their delay discounting.
We tested our hypotheses by using a quasi-experiment design (Study 1) and an experiment design (Study 2). Pregnant women were recruited in Study 1, and non-pregnant women were primed with maternal mind set in Study 2. In both studies, control groups were non-pregnant women without any manipulation. All the participants in both studies completed the Consideration of Future Consequences Scale (Strathman, Gleicher, Boninger, & Edwards, 1994; α = 0.71) and Intertemporal Decision-making Tasks (Wang & Dvorak, 2010). In Study 3, we manipulated future orientation to determine whether it was causally related to intertemporal decision. The manipulations in Study 2 and Study 3 were both successful. They showed that pregnant women were more future-oriented than their peer control groups. Pregnant women had a much lower delay discounting rate in intertemporal decision-making. Furthermore, it was found that the level of future orientation mediated this effect.
This research explored the differences in intertemporal choice between pregnant women and their peer group. Our results revealed that pregnant women had a ‘maternal mind’ which focuses more on future events. This mindset promotes future-orientation and a greater preference for LL options in intertemporal choice.