When Intertemporal Rewards Are Hedonic, Larger Units of Wait Time Boost Patience

Rafay A. Siddiqui, Ashwani Monga, Eva C. Buechel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In intertemporal choices between smaller-sooner (SS) and larger-later (LL) rewards, five studies reveal that patience for the LL option is influenced by an interactive effect of the measurement units used to express wait time (large vs. small) and the type of the reward (hedonic vs. utilitarian). Specifically, larger time units boost patience, but more so when rewards are hedonic rather than utilitarian. In line with the numerosity heuristic, the effect of time units on patience is mediated by larger time units shrinking wait time perception. This effect arises because hedonic (vs. utilitarian) rewards promote a reliance on heuristics rather than systematic calculations. Therefore, a more calculative mindset diminishes the effect of units even for hedonic rewards and eliminates the hedonic-utilitarian asymmetry. These results contribute to research on numerosity, intertemporal choice, and hedonic-utilitarian differences, and offer a simple tool for practitioners to influence patience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)612-628
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing


  • Hedonic and experiential consumption
  • Hedonic-utilitarian differences
  • Intertemporal choice
  • Numerosity
  • Time perception and temporal effects


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