Reference Dependence in Intertemporal Preference

Zhihua Li, Songfa Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dynamic structures in intertemporal choices offer multiple channels through which reference dependence can occur. We examine intertemporal reference dependence when using choice lists to elicit time preference over outcome sequences. Reference point effects can arise endogenously within an outcome sequence and exogenously from the experimental environment of the choice list. We show that estimated discount factors in the choice list are biased by both kinds of reference points and propose a model to jointly account for both. Our experimental design with outcome sequences also enables us to jointly estimate the discount factor and utility curvature. We further discuss the implications for recent developments in the measurement of intertemporal preference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-490
Number of pages16
JournalManagement Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • choice list
  • experiment
  • intertemporal preference
  • reference dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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