Subadditive versus hyperbolic discounting: a comparison of choice and matching

D Read, P.H.M.P. Roelofsma

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Impulsive and myopic choices are often explained as due to hyperbolic discounting, meaning that people are impatient for outcomes available immediately, and become increasingly more patient the more the outcome is delayed. Recent research, however, has suggested that much experimental evidence for increasing patience is actually due to subadditive discounting: people are less patient (per-time-unit) over shorter intervals regardless of when they occur. Because previous research into subadditive discounting has used a choice elicitation procedure, the present paper tests whether it generalises to matching. We find strong evidence that it does, but also find weak evidence of increasing patience for matching. We suggest, however, that subadditive discounting alone may be sufficient to account for all of our results. We conclude by questioning the contribution that hyperbolic discounting makes to our understanding of time preference. © 2003 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-153
Number of pages14
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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