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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Public Health | doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2019.00297

Quantitative Cross-Cultural Similarities and Differences in Social Discounting for Gains and Losses

  • 1University of Texas at San Antonio, United States
  • 2Hokkaido University, Japan

Social discounting is when resource allocation decreases as social distance increases. Studies fitting different quantitative models to social discounting data have shown that a q-exponential function based on Tsallis’ statistics best fits loss data, whereas a hyperbolic power function best fits gain data. However, a social discounting sign effect, where losses are discounted less than equivalent gains, has not been consistently found. This study fit four different quantitative social discounting models to gain and loss data for 40 United States (US) participants. We compared quantitative model fits to revious studies collected with Japanese and German participants to determine if (1) different quantitative social discounting models best fit loss and gain data, (2) US participants discounted less gains than Japanese participants, but not losses and (3) US participants showed the sign effect. Results showed that the q-exponential function and the hyperbolic power function best fit median loss and gain data, respectively. There were no significant absolute differences between cultures for gains or losses, and US participants showed a robust sign effect. While most results for US participants were consistent with previous data, future cross-cultural social discounting studies are needed that manipulate sign as well as reward magnitude to determine best quantitative model fits. Social discounting results are also discussed in relation to their application to important health behaviors such as smoking and obesity.

Keywords: Altruism, hyperbolic, power function, sharing, sign effect

Received: 26 Mar 2019; Accepted: 02 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Stegall, Collette, Kinjo, Takahashi and Romanowich. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Paul Romanowich, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, 78249, Texas, United States,