Income is a primary determinant of social mobility, career progression, and personal happiness. It has been shown to vary with demographic variables like age and education, with more oblique variables such as height, and with behaviors such as delay discounting, i.e., the propensity to devalue future rewards. However, the relative contribution of each these salary-linked variables to income is not known. Further, much of past research has often been underpowered, drawn from populations of convenience, and produced findings that have not always been replicated. Here we tested a large (n = 2,564), heterogeneous sample, and employed a novel analytic approach: using three machine learning algorithms to model the relationship between income and age, gender, height, race, zip code, education, occupation, and discounting. We found that delay discounting is more predictive of income than age, ethnicity, or height. We then used a holdout data set to test the robustness of our findings. We discuss the benefits of our methodological approach, as well as possible explanations and implications for the prominent relationship between delay discounting and income.
Good Things for Those Who Wait: Predictive Modeling Highlights Importance of Delay Discounting for Income Attainment
William H. Hampton, Nima Asadi, and Ingrid R. Olson
Front. Psychol., 03 September 2018 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01545