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Hyperbolic Discounting and the Psychology of Being Prepared

Hyperbolic Discounting and the Psychology of Being Prepared

We as humans have cognitive biases, (a way of thinking that can lead to irrational decision-making) and Hyperbolic Discounting is one of them. Hyperbolic Discounting causes us to choose an immediate reward over a larger reward some time in the future; essentially we greatly discount the value of the future reward. 

There are numerous examples showing this immediate gratification - here's an example using money; if you were offered $50 today or $100 tomorrow, most people would wait till tomorrow for the $100. But as the time frame stretches, irrationality sets in. If the choice were $50 today or $100 in a year, most would take the $50 today.

The impacts of Hyperbolic Discounting are pervasive in everyday life. It's part of the reason we kick the can down the road when it comes to so many things, including preparing ourselves and our families for an emergency.

When it comes to getting prepared, what one does today could have large future payoffs. Or looking at it another way, not being prepared could have big negative consequences. Even though some steps in getting prepared really do not take much time at all and cost nothing, so few people put in the hour or two to make, for example, a Family Readiness Plan.  

Looking at some recent statistics, most people consider themselves unprepared; they have actually acknowledged it and still do nothing about it. Now that is irrational, yet it's a typical human response. Part of the reason is Hyperbolic Discounting - the future consequences are inordinately discounted.

Pushing through our human biases and understanding there's no time like the present, the likelihood for future rewards will ultimately pay off.