ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (11): 1926-1938.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2020.01926

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Time preferences for public health and health behavior

WU Xiao-Ju, CHEN Jun-Fang, FU Jia-Hui, LI Shu, LIANG Zhu-Yuan()   

  1. CAS Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China;Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2019-12-02 Online:2020-11-15 Published:2020-09-23
  • Contact: LIANG Zhu-Yuan


Time preference for health is omnipresent and important at both individual and national levels. For a long time, research in this field has been limited to following inter-temporal choice models and methods in the traditional monetary domain of time preference studies. Given the domain-specificity of time preference in the health domain, these indiscriminately theoretical models led to inconsistent measures and results in the field. In the past few decades, researchers in this field have focused on the behavioral consequences of time preference for health. Most studies reported that lower temporal discount rates and higher future time perspectives are positively related to health protection behaviors and negatively related to health risk behaviors. Researchers also found that features of both decision-making objects and decision makers are key impact factors for time preference for health. Future studies should develop theoretical models and measurements that are more suitable to the time preferences for health domain, identify the relationship between healthy behaviors and time preference, and investigate the mechanism underlying the decision-making process. Future researchers should also explore interventions for health behaviors and their application to formulation of healthcare policies.

Key words: intertemporal decision making, health behavior, domain specificity, time perspective

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