What is it about?

This article summarizes 30 years of research on age differences in delay discounting over the lifespan. The results reveal a U-shaped association between age and delay discounting. Adolescents and older adults have higher delay discounting than middle-aged adults, with a turning point around age 50, suggesting a three-way tradeoff between mortality, fertility, and parenting across the lifespan.

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Why is it important?

This meta-analysis is up-to-date, the most comprehensive review of age-dependent tradeoffs between a smaller-sooner (SS) reward and a larger-later(LL) reward. The results revealed a U-shaped function of delay discounting (the degree to which delayed rewards are discounted in values). The discounting was high in childhood and early adolescence and gradually declined to the lowest point of age 50 and then increased gradually till late life. The U-shaped pattern suggests a life-history model of a three-way tradeoff between mortality, fertility, and parenting needs.


Conducting this three-year project has been a great learning process in which I and my three co-authors, my graduate student and two undergraduate students, overcome many theoretical and methodological challenges.

Prof. XT (XiaoTian) Wang

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Age effects on delay discounting across the lifespan: A meta-analytical approach to theory comparison and model development., Psychological Bulletin, July 2023, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/bul0000396.
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