ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (1): 96-105.

• Reports of Empirical Studies •

### Enjoy the present or wait for the future? Effects of individuals’ view of time on intertemporal choice

XU Lan1,2,CHEN Quan1,CUI Nan1,2,*,LU Kaili1

1. 1 Economics and Management School, Wuhan University
2 Research Center for Organizational Marketing of Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
• Received:2017-04-06 Published:2019-01-25 Online:2018-11-26
• Contact: Nan CUI

Abstract:

Intertemporal choice refers to decisions involving tradeoffs among costs and benefits at different time points. Most research on intertemporal choice has explored the influence of choice attributes. The existing literature has also discussed the relationship between individuals’ subjective time conception and their intertemporal choice, especially from the perspective of individuals’ characteristics and internal states. However, few research has investigated the same relationship from the perspective of the general view of time among individuals. Individuals’ view of time can be classified into two types, namely, linear and circular views of time. We posit that views of time relate to individuals’ perception of change in their surrounding environment. Such views may affect individuals’ time perception and hence their intertemporal decision making.
Three studies confirm our hypotheses. Hypothesis 1 states that people with a circular view of time, relative to those with a linear view of time, prefer the larger but later (LL) option in an intertemporal choice. Study 1 tested this main effect between the view of time and intertemporal decision making. The results of Study 1 confirmed Hypothesis 1. Hypothesis 2 states that participants with a linear view of time, relative to those with a circular view of time, perceive a longer time delay in the LL option in an intertemporal choice; thus, they prefer the smaller but sooner option. Hypothesis 2 also states that time perception of delay in the LL option mediates the effect of individuals’ view of time on intertemporal choice. Study 2 tested the mediating effect of time perception in intertemporal decision making. Sixty-four participants were randomly assigned to one group with a linear view of time and another group with a circular view of time. All participants were presented with the same task and asked to finish the corresponding computerized questionnaires. The results of Study 2 supported Hypotheses 1 and 2. The ANOVA results indicated that the participants with a linear view of time perceived a long time delay and thus preferred the SS option in intertemporal decision making. Bootstrap mediating analysis indicated that time perception of delay mediated the influence of the participants’ view of time on intertemporal choice.
Hypothesis 3 posits that the presence or absence of a time marker moderates the effect proposed in Hypothesis 1. Study 3 was performed to test Hypothesis 3. A total of 122 participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups in a two (view of time: linear versus circular) by two (time marker: with marker versus without marker) between-subject experimental design. The participants were then asked to finish the corresponding experimental task. The ANOVA result revealed that the interaction term between view of time and time marker was significant. In the absence of a time marker, view of time significantly influenced the participants’ time conception. Such effect diminished with the availability of specific time markers. These findings supported Hypothesis 3.
This research confirmed the differences between linear and circular views of time in the midst of an intertemporal choice. Results revealed that people with a circular view of time, relative to those with a linear view of time, prefer the LL option in an intertemporal choice. The effect of such preference is mediated by time conception and is significant when specific time markers are absent.

CLC Number: