People Pick Short-term Reward, Not Future

AUSTIN, Texas, March 31 (UPI) — Given a choice between a quick payoff versus a longer-term benefit, people with complete information pick the instant reward, U.S. researchers find.

Bradley Love, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and graduate student Ross Otto said the findings better explain the decisions people make financially, physically and emotionally.

The researchers had 78 subjects given two options through a computer program that allowed them to accumulate points. For each choice, one option offered the subject more points. But choosing the other option could lead to more points further along in the experiment. Some were given this information, some weren’t and were given misinformation, the researcher said.

The study, published online in the journal Judgment and Decision Making, found those given full and accurate information about the short-term loss versus the long-term benefit chose the quick payoff more than twice as often as those who were given false information or no information about the long-term rewards lost.

“Basically, people have to stay away from thinking about the short-term pains and gains or they are sunk and, objectively, will end up worse off,” Love said in a statement.

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