The Five-Trial Adjusting Delay Discounting Task is a very brief variant of the traditional Delay Discounting Task. The construct of delay discounting refers to people’s tendency to value rewards less as the amount of time increases until those rewards would be received. The relationship between delays and subjective value can be represented with a hyperbolic curve. That is, as the time delay increases away from the present, the minimum amount of money that a person would prefer to receive right away for a given amount of money in the future (e.g., $1,000) decreases very steeply for small increases in delay relative to the present (e.g., hours to weeks in the future) and then continues to decrease but less steeply with greater increases in delay relative to the present (e.g., months to years in the future). This brief task uses only five trials to estimate a person’s discounting rate by adjusting the specifications of each subsequent trial based on performance of the preceding trial. Each 5-trial version of this task uses one monetary amount for each trial (e.g., $1,000; $1,000,000). Each participant is asked on the first trial of the task whether they would prefer to receive that amount in three weeks or half that amount now. On the next trial the question is repeated but with a different time delay according to the participant’s response on the previous trial. That is, a greater delay is presented on the next trial if the participant chose “now” on the previous trial, whereas a lesser delay is presented if the participant chose the later time on the previous trial. The dependent measure is the steepness of the delay discounting curve.
The Five-Trial Adjusting Delay Discounting Task is a measure of temporal discounting, the tendency for people to prefer smaller, immediate monetary rewards over larger, delayed rewards (see also Delay Discounting Task in this Measures Repository; Kirby & Maraković, 1996). The Five-Trial version of the task has been demonstrated to reliably capture delay discounting in a very short time of under two minutes (Koffarnus & Bickel, 2014). Delay discounting is believed to be related to the domain of self-regulation. This construct is associated with a variety of unhealthy behaviors (Daugherty & Brase, 2010) and thus may be a mechanism of behavior change.
[+] PMCID, PUBMED ID, or CITATION
Text Citation: Kirby, K. N., & Maraković, N. N. (1996). Delay-discounting probabilistic rewards: Rates
Text Citation: Koffarnus, M. N., & Bickel, W. K. (2014). A 5-trial adjusting delay discounting task: Accurate discount rates in less than one minute. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 22(3), 222-228.
Text Citation: Daugherty, J. R., & Brase, G. L. (2010). Taking time to be healthy: Predicting health behaviors with delay discounting and time perspective. Personality and Individual differences, 48(2), 202-207.
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The Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) program seeks to promote basic research on the initiation, personalization and maintenance of behavior change. By integrating work across disciplines, this effort will lead to an improved understanding of the underlying principles of behavior change. The SOBC program aims to implement a mechanisms-focused, experimental medicine approach to behavior change research and to develop the tools required to implement such an approach. The experimental medicine approach involves: identifying an intervention target, developing measures to permit verification of the target, engaging the target through experimentation or intervention, and testing the degree to which target engagement produces the desired behavior change.
Within the SOBC Measures Repository, researchers have access to measures of mechanistic targets that have been (or are in the processing of being) validated by SOBC Research Network Members and other experts in the field. The SOBC Validation Process includes three important stages of evaluation for each proposed measure: Identification, Measurement, and Influence.
The first stage of validation requires a measure to be Identified within the field; there must be theoretical support for the specific measure of the proposed mechanistic target or potential mechanism of behavior change. This evidence may include references for the proposed measure, or theoretical support for the construct that the proposed measure is intended to assess. The second stage of validation requires demonstration that the level and change in level of the chosen mechanistic target can be Measured with the proposed measure (assay). For example, if the proposed measure is a questionnaire, the score on the measure should indicate the activity of the target process, and it must have strong psychometric properties. The third stage of validation requires demonstration that the measure can be Influenced; there must be evidence that the measured target is malleable and responsive to manipulation. Evidence relating to each stage includes at least one peer-reviewed publication or original data presentation (if no peer-reviewed research is available to support the claim) and is evaluated by SOBC Research Network Members and experts in the field.
Once a measure has gone through these three stages, it will then either be Validated or Not validated according to SOBC Research Network standards. If a measure is Validated, then change in the measured target was reliably associated with Behavior Change. If a measure is Not validated, then change in the measured target was not reliably associated with Behavior Change. Why would we share measures that are not validated? The SOBC Research Network values open, rigorous, and transparent research. Our goal is to make meaningful progress and develop replicable and effective interventions in behavior change science. Therefore, the SOBC sees value in providing other researchers in the field with information regarding measures that work and measures that fall short for specific targets. Further, a measure that is not validated for one target in one population may be validated in another target or population.
Want to learn more? For any questions regarding the SOBC Validation Process or Measures Repository, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Has the mechanism been identified as a potential target for behavior change? This section summarizes theoretical support for the mechanism.
Have the psychometric properties of this measure been assessed? This section includes information such as content validity, internal consistency, and test-retest reliability.
Has a study manipulation led to change in the mechanism? This section addresses evidence that this measure is modifiable by experimental manipulation or clinical intervention.
Has a change in this mechanism been associated with behavior change? This section addresses empirical evidence that causing change in the measure reliably produces subsequent behavior change.