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Poster D132

Reducing Biases in Decision-Making in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Poster Session D - Monday, April 15, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Caitlin M. Terao1, Julia G. Halilova1, Samuel Fynes-Clinton2, Donna Rose Addis2, R. Shayna Rosenbaum1,2; 1Department of Psychology, York University, 2Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest

Delay discounting refers to a decision-making bias in which smaller, immediate rewards are favored over larger, delayed rewards. Delay discounting can serve as a behavioral index of willingness to engage in public health measures, including vaccination, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Orienting individuals towards specific future events has been shown to reduce delay discounting. The present study examined the efficacy of a future-imagining induction on delay discounting in a multinational sample (N = 7,667; 14 countries) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were randomly assigned to future-imagining induction or control groups. Based on pilot testing, the control condition involved copying meaningless text, whereas the induction involved typing a description of an imagined event in response to a general future time and event cue (i.e., imagine celebrating a friend’s birthday after the pandemic is over). Participants then rated their degree of future thinking on a 10-point scale before completing a measure of delay discounting that involved deciding between varying smaller, immediate monetary rewards and a larger, delayed monetary reward (e.g., $1000 now vs. $2000 at one of 7 delays: 1 week/1 month/3 months/6 months/1 year/3 years/10 years). Results indicated that the induction group reported thinking about the future significantly more and discounted future rewards significantly less than the control group. During the COVID-19 pandemic, having participants imagine a future event significantly reduced biased decision-making. Future research should explore the efficacy of this induction in increasing uptake of public health measures that could inform government responses to current and future health crises.

Topic Area: THINKING: Decision making


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