Hazard function effects on promoting self-control in variable interval time-based interventions in rats

Carrie Bailey, Kelsey Panfil, Kimberly Kirkpatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The present experiments investigated properties of time-based interventions used to increase self-control. Rats received impulsive-choice assessments before and after interventions that consisted of different distributions of delays to reinforcement. In Experiment 1, rats received an intervention with an increasing hazard function where delays were more evenly distributed, a decreasing hazard function where delays were mostly short, or a constant hazard function where delays were exponentially distributed. Surprisingly, rats that received the decreasing hazard function made the most self-controlled choices. Response rates during intervention trials showed that rats anticipated reinforcement based on the shape of the distributions they received. In Experiment 2, rats received an intervention with a decreasing hazard function with a steep slope or a shallow slope. Both time-based interventions increased self-control and produced similar response-rate patterns, indicating that the slope of the decreasing hazard function may not play a strong role in intervention efficacy. While this research aligns with previous literature showing that time-based interventions improved self-control, exposure to short delays produced the biggest improvements. Ultimately, exposure to short delays may increase the subjective value of the larger–later choice while occasional long delays may promote the ability to wait, which may have important implications for translational applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-299
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of the experimental analysis of behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by NIMH R01 Grant 085739 and by NIGMS Grant 113109 awarded to Kimberly Kirkpatrick and Kansas State University. Subsets of this data were presented at Society for Quantitative Analyses of Behavior 2019 Annual Conference and Mid‐American Association for Behavior Analysis 2019 Annual Conference.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.


  • delay discounting
  • hazard function
  • impulsive choice
  • intervention
  • variable interval


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