Choose Your Words Wisely: Delay Discounting of Differently Titled Social Policy Issues

Karyn M. Plumm, Hannah Borhart, Jeffrey N. Weatherly


The present study investigated whether altering how certain social policies were framed would alter how many participants valued and/or discounted those policies and also whether discounting of the policies would be related to several measures of the participants’ religiousness and their political party affiliation. Five hundred ninety seven university undergraduates were randomly divided into two groups and completed a delay-discounting task that involved one monetary and five social-policy outcomes. The phrasing of the policies differed between groups (e.g., affirmative action vs. equal rights). Results showed that framing the policies in different ways altered A) the number of participants who indicated that the policy held value and B) how participants discounted the policies. Levels of discounting were also related to measures of religiousness and/or political party affiliation for all but one outcome. The present results highlight the potential value of studying how individuals discount delayed outcomes pertaining to social issues.


Delay discounting; Social Policies; Religiousness; Political party affiliation; University students

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Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library

And Behaviorists for Social Responsibility