Hyperbolic discounting is the notion that we value things today about twice as much as we value things at any point in the future, from tomorrow to ten days, months or years from now. It is called Hyperbolic discounting because the trend follows a hyperbolic curve when plotted on a graph. For example, studies were done on people and they were asked to choose between $50 now and $100 a year from now, many people will choose the immediate $50. However, given the choice between $50 in five years or $100 in six years, almost everyone will choose $100 in six years, even though that is the same choice seen at five years' greater distance, this shows that people value things less in the future. Retail stores do this when they offer 'pay later' deals, people assume that paying $200 per month will be easier next year than it is now when in reality it will probably be the same if not worse after you have brought too many things and have to start paying for them.

Hyperbolic discounting is also the scientific reason why we are always going to start dieting and exercising tomorrow.
Most people when they to start a diet or exercise plan almost always pick a point in the future to begin. It might be a Monday, or the day after you get back from a vacation or New Year’s Day or you might just decide at lunch that as of supper tonight, the diet begins. You may even have a last meal in anticipation of the diet to justify a final trip to McDonald's. It is always at a point in the future.

Hyperbolic discounting explains why we have to have the slice of cheesecake now, but we are sure that it can easily be avoided next week. The same can be used to explain why we decide at night to exercise in the morning, but then in the morning decide not to get out of bed. Somehow it’s a lot harder to get out of bed at 5 am than we thought it would be when we set our alarm the previous evening.

Ways to Overcome Hyperbolic Discounting

Well, now you know scientifically that it is all in your head and that your brain is telling you that it will be easier than it will actually be. We need to alter our perception of future events, we all know it is tough to drag ourselves out of bed early to exercise, but we also know that once we are up and moving that it wasn't that bad after all and it was totally worth it in the end, so perhaps knowing how your brain works will make it a bit easier to get started right now. Preparation can also ease this effect too, having your gym clothes laid out and having meals planned and ready to go can help overcome the reality shock and at least get us to stay on track until Tuesday!

Yours In Health.

Richard Insley

2016-12-13 16:44:25