Life expectancy has significantly increased during the last century, but health in later life is often subject to chronic diseases. Many of them are related to nutrition, and preventable with the appropriate diet and lifestyle. However, following a healthy diet and lifestyle often involves a trade-off between instant gratification, occurring in the present, and delayed benefits or costs that are postponed to the future. Research in the discipline of behavioural economics proposes a crucial role for time discounting as a cause of various risky behaviours - an unwillingness to delay gratification is indexed by high degrees of temporal discounting. This research hypothesizes that engaging in Episodic Future Thinking, a type of prospective thinking, will bridge this temporal gap by strengthening the connection between our present and future selves, reflected by a reduction in delay discounting and an improvement of dietary decision making. The experimental results reveal a significant link between Episodic Future Thinking and a lower delay discounting rate among college students, supporting its use to counteract the prevalent human tendency to prioritize the present self over the needs of the future self. These findings suggest that Episodic Future Thinking can be incorporated in the design of policy interventions aimed at helping people become more future oriented, with the potential to improve global public health and reduce the economic and social costs associated with the global chronic disease epidemic.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Episodic Future Thinking, time discounting, inter temporal choice
Thesis Advisor K.I.M. Rohde
Persistent URL
Series Economics
B. Madeira Torrinha. (2018, November 29). Time Discounting and Episodic Future Thinking: A Healthier Future Me. Economics. Retrieved from