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Investigating the influence of socio-environmental cues of harshness on delay discounting behavior utilizing virtual reality

Scholz, S.F. (2021) Investigating the influence of socio-environmental cues of harshness on delay discounting behavior utilizing virtual reality.

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Abstract:Why are some people more affine to delay discounting than others, and which factors influence their decision-making? This paper argues that Life history theory predicts that experiences in harsh environments will influence an individual's cognitions and correlated behavioral patterns to favor immediate gratification in terms of smaller sooner rewards over delayed larger rewards. Many scholars have referred to this preference for a present orientation of decision-making as irrational and impulsive, suggesting individuals cannot have too much self-control. In this paper, however, it is argued that individuals' behavioral preferences are neither irrational nor impulsive but rather the most beneficial and adaptive way to cope in harsh environments. Consequently, the paper aims to investigate how experiences of socio-environmental cues of harshness influence behavioral patterns in human decision-making utilizing a monetary binary choice task to measure delay discounting behavior. Thereby, this study revolutionized priming cues of harshness by creating an immersive experience, in which participants walked through either a deprived or affluent neighborhood utilizing Virtual Reality scenes. Following the prime participants, preference of temporal discounting for a smaller immediate hypothetical reward versus larger delayed hypothetical rewards is measured utilizing a monetary binary choice task. However, the results of this study are not in line with previous research. The results showed participants did not engaged more in delay discounting after walking through a deprived virtual reality neighborhood being exposed to cues of harshness. Contrary to the expectation that the experience of harsh environments would increase delay discounting, the control group who walked through an affluent neighborhood engaged slightly more in delay discounting compared to the experimental group, which was primed with cues of harshness.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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