OBJECTIVES: People generally tend to discount future outcomes in favor of smaller but immediate gains (i.e., delay discounting). The present research examined cultural similarities and differences in delay discounting of gain and loss between Chinese and Japanese, based on a q-exponential model of intertemporal choice.
METHOD: Using a hypothetical situation, we asked 65 Japanese participants and 51 Chinese participants to choose between receiving (or paying) a different amount of money immediately or with a specified delay (1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, and 25 years). For each delay, participants completed a series of 40 binary choices for gain or loss.
RESULTS: Regardless of cultures, the q-exponential model was the optimal model. Both impulsivity and time-inconsistency were higher for future gains than for future losses. In addition to the cultural similarities, Chinese participants discounted future gains and losses more steeply than did Japanese. In contrast, Japanese participants were more time-inconsistent in delay discounting than were Chinese, suggesting that the reduction in their subjective value depended relatively on delay.