People often prefer immediate small rewards compared to delayed larger rewards, which is referred to delay discounting. Schizotypy, a subclinical group at risk for schizophrenia, tends to discount more than healthy controls. Episodic future thinking (EFT), in which people mentally simulate future events to pre‐experience the future, has been found to reduce delay discounting in the general population, but whether this effect can be found in individuals with schizotypy remains unknown. The present study examined, in individuals with schizotypy, whether EFT was associated with lower delay discounting compared to episodic recent thinking (ERT), and whether this effect was related to the magnitude of reward.
A total of 63 individuals with schizotypy were randomly assigned to the EFT condition (n = 30) or the ERT condition (n = 33). A delay discounting task with both large and small reward conditions was used, and before making choices, participants were asked to vividly think about a future event (EFT condition) or a recent past event (ERT condition).
Results showed that participants in the EFT condition showed lower delay discounting rate than participants in the ERT condition, regardless of the magnitude of reward. These findings suggest that EFT enhanced the ability to resist immediate reward and had an effect on impulsive decision‐making in schizotypy.
These results provided crucial insights for developing effective intervention for schizophrenia.