ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (2): 165-173.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.00165

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The Influence of Time Perception Difference on Intertemporal Choice

SUO Tao;ZHANG Feng;ZHAO Guoxiang;LI Hong   

  1. (1 Institute of Psychology & Behavior, College of Education and Science, Henan University, Kaifeng 475004, China) (2 College of Psychology, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian 116029, China)
  • Received:2013-06-24 Published:2014-02-25 Online:2014-02-25
  • Contact: ZHAO Guoxiang;LI Hong


Intertemporal choice refers to decisions involving tradeoffs among costs and benefits occurring at different points in time. Despite a large number of studies have shown that impulsive behavior is closely related to subjective experience of time, but the relationship between impulsive behavior and perception of time is still controversial in intertemporal choices. From the perspective of personality differences, using a simple intertemporal choice task, this study investigated the differences in behavioral responses between two groups who had different tendencies of time perception (those who tended to overestimate time or underestimate time) in intertemporal choice to explore the role of time perception on intertemporal choice. In the present study, 32 participants who overestimated time (18 males and 14 females, average age = 20.36±1.25 years) and 32 participants who underestimate time (15 male and 17 females, average age = 20.64±1.98 years) were selected by using a time-production task from 120 volunteers recruited from some universities in China. They were asked to engage in a simple intertemporal choice task, in which, they were forced to make choices between two amounts of money attained in different delay time, and moreover, the difficulty of the intertemporal choice task was also manipulated through different amounts of money in options. The participants in the experiment were all right-hand, had normal or corrected-to-normal vision and had no neurological or psychological disorders. Each participant signed a consent form prior to the experiments and was paid after the experiment, according to their performance. The study was approved by the local academic committee. The results indicated that, (1) regardless difficulty of choice task, compared to the group who tended to underestimate time, the group who tended to overestimate time prefered to smaller-immediate rewards. (2) there is no significant difference in reaction time of intertemporal choice between the group who tended to overestimate time and the group who tended to underestimate time; and the reaction time of the group who tended to overestimate time was not affected by difficulty of choice task, while the reaction time of the group who tended to overestimate time in easy choice task was significantly longer than that in difficult task. In conclusion, the present study suggested that time perception plays an important role in intertemporal decision-making. Individuals who tend to overestimation of time may lead to overestimation of the cost of revenue, which would result in his/her impulsive choices in intertemporal choices

Key words: intertemporal choice, time perception, tendency to overestimate time, tendency to underestimate time