Background

Excessive delay discounting (devaluation of delayed outcomes) is a risk factor for obesity, as well as poor glycemic control and medication nonadherence in patients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Thus, discounting of the future may serve as a possible therapeutic target in diabetes prevention and management. Prior studies show that an episodic future thinking (EFT) intervention reduces rate of delay discounting, whereas simulation of negative income shock (narratives describing the abrupt transition to poverty) increase delay discounting.

Methods

In the present study, we examined the combined effects of these interventions on delay discounting of two monetary reward magnitudes ($1000 and $100) in adults with prediabetes (N=78) in order to determine whether EFT exerts therapeutic effects even when challenged by income shock.

Results

For the $1000 magnitude, EFT and negative income shock significantly decreased and increased delay discounting, respectively. For $100, EFT significantly reduced delay discounting, whereas negative income shock produced no significant change. For both magnitudes, EFT and income shock did not significantly interact.

Conclusions

Replication of prior effects of EFT and the absence of significant interactions between EFT and income shock on delay discounting suggest that these interventions operate independently of one another and, moreover, that EFT may be used to reduce immediacy bias even under conditions known to increase discounting of the future.