There is a near-universal tendency to discount the value of delayed rewards relative to those available in the here and now. The rate at which future rewards become devalued over time, delay discounting, is an important individual difference variable related to impulsivity and is elevated in externalising disorders, including alcohol use disorders. Recent research suggests that vividly imagining personally relevant future events (episodic foresight) during an intertemporal choice task can attenuate the rate at which delayed rewards are discounted.
The present study sought to extend these findings by examining the effect of episodic foresight on both delay discounting and alcohol-related decision-making.
Forty-eight college students were administered both modified intertemporal choice and hypothetical alcohol purchase tasks during which personally relevant episodic future event cues or control imagery cues were presented.
Engaging in episodic foresight reduced both the rate at which delayed monetary rewards were discounted and initial alcohol demand intensity (but not other demand indices) relative to control imagery.
Findings suggest that the attenuating effect of episodic foresight on impulsivity may be limited to particular aspects of impulsive choice.
Keywords: Episodic foresight; Episodic future thinking; Delay discounting; Intertemporal choice; Alcohol; Impulsivity