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Delayed gratification is not denied gratification

Three experiments investigated attentional and cognitive mechanisms in delay of gratification. In each study preschool children could obtain a less preferred reward immediately or continue waiting indefinitely for a more preferred but delayed reward.
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asian boy sitting sadly on dining table waiting for food

Three experiments investigated attentional and cognitive mechanisms in delay of gratification. In each study preschool children could obtain a less preferred reward immediately or continue waiting indefinitely for a more preferred but delayed reward.

Mischel, W., Ebbesen, E. B., & Raskoff Zeiss, A. (1972). Cognitive and attentional mechanisms in delay of gratification. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 21(2), 204-218.

In this modern world we talk about patience as a very light thing that, as we suggest, anyone can just goes through. The big question is whether we prefer to reap now or later?

One study from Stanford University conducted in 1972 yield results that suggests something interesting about human beings. The study was divided into three experiments.

Experiment 1 compared the effects of external and cognitive distraction from the reward objects on the length of time which preschool children waited for the preferred delayed reward before forfeiting it for the sake of the less preferred immediate one.

Experiment 2 demonstrated that only certain cognitive events (thinking “fun things”) served as effective ideational distractors Thinking “sad thoughts” produced short delay times, as did thinking about the rewards themselves.

In Experiment 3 the delayed rewards were not physically available for direct attention during the delay period, and the children’s attention to them cognitively was manipulated by prior instructions.

According to the study, the main findings from the three experiments showed that effective delay of gratification depended on cognitive avoidance or suppression of the reward objects during the waiting period.

The study found that the delay of gratification was exceedingly difficult when the youngsters faced the reward objects. Suggesting that when we see what is to come, it’s even harder to wait than when we don’t see the product or end results.

Some studies that came as a results of this Stanford University study reveal that children who wait for the reward tend to have a high rate of success. This makes one think about failure. Those who fail and keep going can in someway be related to those who are willing to wait for a certain reward especially when they don’t see it.

Perhaps this is why we may see a high number in school dropout rates? Is it because they are like the children who couldn’t wait any longer when the reward was in front of them?

At the end of the day, the children who waited a little longer, even when they didn’t see the reward ultimately had more rewards.

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