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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Neuroscience & Behavior

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



In this thesis, I will explore the idea that choices between present, smaller value options and future, larger value options depend on how much individuals trust the future to deliver the reward. Due to this aspect of trust, the individual must build their estimate of trust based on information for their present environment and their future expectations. This estimate of future trust can change across different time points in the same environment (i.e., before and after a national election) and between environments in the same time point (i.e., between two countries experiencing different economic rates of change). In this set of presented experiments, I will explore the link between decision environment and delay discounting, as well as the relationship between the contents of future perception and delay discounting. These two experiments will test differences in delay discounting (a) across two economic systems (China and the U.S.), as well as (b) before and after a national election (2018 U.S. Midterms). The results of the different decision environments study show that the delay discounting rates are significantly different across the two countries, specifically within the framing of present and future. These differences are not explained by differences in culture effects or individual differences in personality traits, suggesting that difference in environment is driving the effect. The results from the Midterm election experiments show evidence for differences in delay discounting between political identities and income groups. There are also differences in how these two groups perceive the contents of their future before and after the election. Specifically with evidence that negative future projection corresponds with increased delay discounting. Overall, these experiments show that delay discounting can be affected by the way information is framed within an environment and how we expect our environments to change over time.


First Advisor

Youngbin Kwak

Second Advisor

Andrew Cohen

Third Advisor

Brian Lickel

Fourth Advisor

Elena Vazey

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.