Specious reward: a behavioral theory of impulsiveness and impulse control.

@article{Ainslie1975SpeciousRA,
  title={Specious reward: a behavioral theory of impulsiveness and impulse control.},
  author={George Ainslie},
  journal={Psychological bulletin},
  year={1975},
  volume={82 4},
  pages={
          463-96
        }
}
  • G. Ainslie
  • Published 1 July 1975
  • Psychology
  • Psychological bulletin
In a choice among assured, familiar outcomes of behavior, impulsiveness is the choice of less rewarding over more rewarding alternatives. Discussions of impulsiveness in the literature of economics, sociology, social psychology, dynamic psychology and psychiatry, behavioral psychology, and "behavior therapy" are reviewed. 'Impulsiveness seems to be best accounted for by the hyberbolic curves that have been found to describe the decline in effectiveness of rewards as the rewards are delayed from… 

Figures from this paper

The latent structure of impulsivity: impulsive choice, impulsive action, and impulsive personality traits

These findings support the hypothesis that diverse measures of impulsivity can broadly be organized into three categories that are largely distinct from one another and warrant investigation among individuals with clinical levels of addictive behavior.

Behavioral and Neural Mechanisms of Impulsive Choice

Contrary to an assumption in the existing literature, it is found that impulsive choice and delay discounting are distinct behaviors; quantity may in fact be a larger contributer toImpulsive choice than delay.

Taking More, Now

A more nuanced conceptualization of trait impulsivity as it applies to rewards-related decision making is suggested that may help explain the variability observed in this trait across individuals.

Beyond discounting: possible experimental models of impulse control

Animal studies of impulsivity have typically used one of three models: a delay of reward procedure, a differential reinforcement for low rate responding (DRL) procedure, or an autoshaping procedure, which is argued to provide a better analog of human impulsivity.

The neuroscience of impulsive and self-controlled decisions.

Précis of Breakdown of Will

  • G. Ainslie
  • Psychology
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • 2005
Hyperbolic curves suggest a means of reducing classical conditioning to motivated choice, the last necessary step for modeling many involuntary processes like emotion and appetite as reward-seeking behaviors; such modeling, in turn, provides a rationale for empathic reward and the “construction” of reality.

Another look at impulsivity: Could impulsive behavior be strategic?

It is proposed that impulsive behavior may be a response to certain needs or goals that people have in the moment and could therefore be strategic and help to move away from pathologizing or moralizing the behavior.

The Psychology of Impulse Buying: An Integrative Self-Regulation Approach

Impulsive buying grossly violates the assumptions of homo economicus. A variety of perspectives on impulse buying are presented, which have been put forward in consumer, economic, social, and

Isolating the delay component of impulsive choice in adolescent rats

A new method of isolating individual components of impulsive choice (delay or quantity) can be efficiently applied in either adolescent or adult animal models and may help elucidate the mechanisms underlying impulsivity and its links to psychological disorders.
...

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 131 REFERENCES

Attention in delay of gratification.

The role of altcntional processes in voluntary delay of reward was explored by manipulating children's attention to the rewards for which they were waiting in a delay-of-gratification paradigm, and voluntary waiting time was substantially increased when subjects could not attend to rewards during the waiting period.

DELAY OF GRATIFICATION, MOTIVATION FOR THE PROHIBITED GRATIFICATION, AND RESPONSES TO TEMPTATION.

Yielding to temptation, in a situation in which attainment of achievement rewards is contingent upon deviant (cheating) behavior, was conceptualized to be a function of (a) the strength of the

Cognitive and attentional mechanisms in delay of gratification.

Attentional and cognitive mechanisms which enhanced the salience of the rewards shortened the length of voluntary delay, while distractions from the rewards, overtly or cogmtively, facilitated delay.

Method and theory in the study of avoidance.

It is suggested that the conditioned stimulus may function as a discriminative stimulus for the avoidance response, rather than as a stimulus whose removal is inherently reinforcing, as two-factor theory requires.

Modification of self-imposed delay of reward through exposure to live and symbolic models.

Both live and symbolic models produced substantial modifications in delay-of-reward behavior within the immediate social-influence setting, but the changes induced in high-delay children through exposure to symbolic models were less stable over time.

Delay of Gratification as a Function of Race of the Experimenter.

Sixth-grade black and white students were offered one 45-rpm record as an immediate reward for completing a locus of control measure or three records if they would wait for the experimenter, either a

Deferred gratification, social class, and the achievement syndrome.

The theoretical and research literature on self-imposed postponement of gratifications or satisfactions is reviewed with emphasis on the relation of such a "Deferred Gratification Pattern" (DGP) to

A quantitative investigation of the delay-of-reinforcement gradient.

A number of animal learning experiments have been reported which involve a variable referred to as delayed reward or delayed reinforcement. This variable is usually characterized by a period of

Science and human behavior

The psychology classic a detailed study of scientific theories of human nature and the possible ways in which human behavior can be predicted and controlled from one of the most influential
...