Insufficient resources are associated with negative consequences including decreased valuation of future reinforcers. To determine if these effects result from scarcity, we examined the consequences of acute, abrupt changes in resource availability on delay discounting-the subjective devaluation of rewards as delay to receipt increases. In the current study, 599 individuals recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk read a narrative of a sudden change (positive, neutral, or negative) to one's hypothetical future income and completed a delay discounting task examining future and past monetary gains and losses. The effects of the explicit zero procedure, a framing manipulation, was also examined. Negative income shock significantly increased discounting rates for gains and loses occurring both in the future and the past. Positive income windfalls significantly decreased discounting to a lesser extent. The framing procedure significantly reduced discounting under all conditions. Negative income shocks may result in short-term choices.

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Published in PLOS ONE, v. 11, no. 9, e0163051, p. 1-11.

© 2016 Bickel et al.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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The grants that supported the project were provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (www.NIAAA.nih.gov) No. R01AA021529 and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (www.drugabuse.gov) No. R01DA034755.

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