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Affective Influences on Intertemporal Choice

Francine W Goh, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


You wake up, reach for your phone and open your favorite social media app. Your newsfeed shows that some friends and family have posted about their recent birthday celebrations and vacation trips while others have posted about the loss of a loved one or that they are experiencing hardship. You then go about your day, making decisions that range from trivial ones---such as what to eat for breakfast---to consequential ones such as how much to contribute to your 401k plan. How might the barrage of emotions you perceived earlier online influence your decision making? Social media is capable of transmitting emotions from one person to large groups quickly through a process known as digital emotion contagion. In turn, emotions can change the way we process information around us and subsequently alter our decision making. Though existing research suggests that emotions impact intertemporal choice where outcomes vary with time, little is known about how emotions influence the way we search for choice information, which is a key part of the decision-making process. Study 1 validated the effectiveness of video clips in inducing happiness and sadness and tested whether constructed social media posts can induce these emotions. Results indicated that both video clips and social media posts induced the targeted emotions, providing the affective stimuli for subsequent studies in this dissertation and for use in work on digital emotion contagion. Study 2 used the video clips from the previous study to explore how emotions influence information processing and preferences in intertemporal choice. Results suggested that emotions do not impact information-processing strategy or intertemporal choice. Given the lack of emotion effects on intertemporal choice in the previous study and the inconsistent findings from the literature, Study 3 provided a follow-up investigation on whether the way that intertemporal choices are presented might shape how emotions influence intertemporal choice. Results indicated that emotions do not influence intertemporal choices even when choice options are presented in different ways. Collectively, this dissertation demonstrates a lack of emotion effects on intertemporal choice, suggesting that affective influences on intertemporal choice in the literature may be overstated.

Subject Area

Psychology|Internet and social media studies|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Goh, Francine W, "Affective Influences on Intertemporal Choice" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI30814235.