Undergraduate Honours Theses
Probability discounting is the process by which people choose a smaller, more-likely reward instead of a larger, less-likely reward (McKerchar & Renda, 2012). While this phenomenon has been well documented, very few studies have tested discounting experimentally using real money. The present experiment was designed to remedy this by replicating a study by Weatherly and Derenne (2013) which showed that undergraduate students discounted money they believed they had won more than money they believed they were owed. 27 undergraduate students were asked to either complete a simple cognitive task or roll a die. The participants in the owed condition were told that completion of the cognitive task had earned entry into a lottery worth $50 with a 5% chance of winning, and participants in the won condition were told that entry into the lottery had been contingent on rolling an even number. If they rolled an odd number, then the participant was informed that he or she would receive no reward. Then participants in both conditions were asked if they would accept $3.00 now instead of the lottery ticket. The results, contrary to prediction, were that participants were no more likely to pick the lottery in the owed condition than in the won condition. Various possible reasons for the failure to confirm the hypothesis were discussed.