A Translational Application of Rapid Assessment of Delay Discounting with Predictions for Saving and Spending Behavior

By Ji Young Kim, 2021 Sidney W. & Janet R. Bijou Grant

Ji Young Kim is a doctoral student studying applied behavior analysis at Teachers College, Columbia University, under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Fienup. She received her MA in applied behavior analysis at Teachers College, Columbia University, and her BA from Barnard College, Columbia University, Cum Laude with a degree in psychology. She is interested in the translation of behavioral economics research to the design of educational system. Specifically, she is interested the application of delay discounting in a natural environment and finding efficient ways to implement instructions and class wide token economy systems. The Bijou grant will support her study of the development of delay discounting and saving/spending behavior to develop a brief, rapid assessment of sensitivity to delayed rewards that may be used across different age groups.

Delay discounting has been associated with many maladaptive behaviors such as drug use, gambling, and overeating (Reynolds, 2006; Weller et al., 2008). However, the complex nature of deriving meaningful discounting values inhibits its widespread use among practitioners (Critchfield & Reed, 2009). The development of a more accessible, user-friendly method would lower the barrier for practitioners to evaluate the degree of delayed reward sensitivity of all population. Additionally, more studies on the development of individuals’ saving and spending behavior are needed. Ji Young’s current project will investigate the developmental trajectory of saving and spending behavior and determine whether the brief delay discounting assessment can predict the saving and spending behavior of children and adults. Ji Young will conduct the study across college students at her university and elementary school-aged students from her professional setting. If the goals are achieved, the newly developed method will serve as a behavioral proxy for quantifying the concept of delay of gratification and thus, bridge the gap between the basic principles of delay discounting and its clinical utility. Further, it will allow us to understand the development of individuals’ saving and spending behavior which can be reliably measured using the new technology.

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