Are intertemporal preferences contagious? Evidence from collaborative decision making

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Memory & Cognition


Prior research has provided substantial insight into individuals’ intertemporal preferences (i.e., preferences about delayed rewards). In the present study, we instead investigated the preferences of small groups of individuals asked to express collective intertemporal decisions. The paradigm consisted of three phases. During the precollaboration and postcollaboration phases, participants completed an intertemporal decision task individually. During the collaboration phase, participants completed a similar task in small groups, reaching mutually-agreedupon decisions. The results suggest that group preferences were systematically related to the mean of the group members’ precollaboration preferences. In addition, collaborative decision making altered the group members’ intertemporal preferences. Specifically, individuals’ postcollaboration preferences converged toward the preferences of their respective groups. Furthermore, we found that individuals’ postcollaboration preferences were independently related to both their precollaboration preferences and the preferences of the other group members, suggesting that individuals’ postcollaboration preferences represented a revision of their precollaboration preferences based on the preferences observed in other group members. In Experiment 2, we demonstrated that similar patterns of results were found whether participants were making matching judgments or binary choices.