Preferences for Temporal Sequences of Real Outcomes Differ Across Domains but do not Vary by Age.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


People's preferences for temporal sequences of events have implications for life-long health and well-being. Prior research suggests that other aspects of intertemporal choice vary by age, but evidence for age differences in sequence-preferences is limited and inconclusive. In response, the present research examined age differences in sequence-preferences for real outcomes administered in a controlled laboratory setting.


A pilot study examined sequence-preferences for aversive electrodermal shocks in 30 younger and 30 older adults. The main study examined sequence-preferences for electrodermal shocks, physical effort, and monetary gambles in an adult life-span sample (N = 120). It also examined emotional and physiological responses to sequences as well as underlying mechanisms including time perception and emotion-regulation.


There were no significant age differences in sequence-preferences in either of the studies, and there were no age differences in responses to sequences in the main study. Instead, there was a domain effect with participants preferring decreasing sequences for shocks and mixed sequences for effort and money.


After considering potential methodological limitations, theoretical contributions and implications for real-life decisions are discussed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Löckenhoff, CE; Rutt, JL; Samanez-Larkin, GR; O'Donoghue, T; Reyna, VF

Published Date

  • February 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 74 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 430 - 439

PubMed ID

  • 28977554

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6377032

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1758-5368

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1079-5014

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/geronb/gbx094


  • eng