Plea Bargaining: A Test of Dual Discounting Preferences for Non-Monetary Losses

Lauren Clatch, Eugene Borgida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Judgment and decision-making research on discounting suggests that when humans are thinking about gains, they tend to prefer certain and immediate outcomes to uncertain and delayed outcomes. However, discounting has been studied primarily using monetary commodities and, until recently, by testing one feature of the binary forced-choice task at a time: delay, probability, or amount of money received/lost. The present research is the first test of a dual discounting task that combines probability and delay into a single, binary forced-choice task in a non-monetary loss context. The key findings, based on three studies, suggest that delay and probability discounting play a significant role in decisions including non-monetary loss commodities like plea bargaining. Future work should explore the boundary conditions of dual discounting based not only on the nature of the binary choice (probability and delay) but also on the nature of the commodity (amount, valence, and quantifiability).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1039-1056
Number of pages18
JournalPersonality and social psychology bulletin
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Lauren Clatch was supported by a Graduate School Fellowship from the University of Minnesota and a 2017 Grant-in-Aid from the American Psychology-Law Society.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.


  • decision making
  • delay and probability discounting
  • heuristics
  • plea bargaining

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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