Delay Discounting by College Undergraduates of Hypothetical Intervention Effects for Challenging Behavior

Mindy C. Scheithauer, Nathan A. Call, Christina A. Simmons, Scott E. Gillespie, Jason Bourret, Lindsay A. Lloveras, Jacquelyn E. Lanphear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is well-established that humans have a bias towards immediate, compared to delayed, rewards. Although this bias has been primarily studied using monetary or other consumable commodities, it has also been demonstrated with outcomes of caregiver-mediated behavioral interventions targeting challenging behavior, which is a prevalent concern among children with autism spectrum disorder. In particular, caregivers may discount improvements in their child’s challenging behavior following behavioral interventions when the onset of improvement is delayed (Call et al. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 45, 1013–1025, 2015). The present study includes a sample of college students reading hypothetical vignettes about children with challenging behavior to evaluate the impact of child characteristics and caregiver role (parent vs. teacher) on discounting and the relationship between discounting of treatment and monetary commodities. Results suggest a discounting pattern across all groups, with no significant differences in discounting based on characteristics of the child/caregiver and steeper discounting for monetary compared to treatment outcomes. The results have implications for future research on caregiver-mediated interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-73
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Record
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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