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CH17 - Michel.odt

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Jason Plaks

Delay of Gratification in Children Walter Mischel et al. Choice to delay Increases with the values of the delayed rewards relative to the immediate ones Increases with the subject’s age Is susceptible to a variety of social influences “children who tend to prefer delayed rewards also tend to be more intelligent, more likey to resist temptation, to have greater social responsibility and higher achievement strivings” Self-imposed delay of gratification Experiment – Children were made to choose between two objects, one favourable and one less favourable, but had to wait 15 minutes (delay gratification) for the more favourable one. Results – those who waited longer were described 10 years later by parents to have the traits mentioned earlier Traits such as… Academically and socially competent Able to cope with frustration and resist temptation better Verbally fluent and able to express ideas Used and responded to reason Attentive and able to concentrate To plan and think ahead Competent and skillfull It was formerly believed that children could delay gratification by anticipating the gratification mentally, by focussing on thoughts or fantasies – but studies showed that it’s actually the opposite To attend or not to attend… Condition 1: children waited with both the immediate (less preferred) and the delayed (more preferred) rewards facing them Condition 2: both rewards were present but obscured from sight Condition 3 and 4: either the delayed reward only or the immediately available reward was exposed during the delay period Results Attention to the rewards consistently and substantially decreased delay time instead of increasing it. Preschool children waited an avg. of more than 11 minutes when no rewards were exposed, but less than 6 minutes on avg. when any of the rewards were exposed during the delay Children were then suggested to think of different types of thoughts to orient their attention with regard to the rewards Results: When preschoolers were cued to think about the rewards when waiting, delay time was short, regardless of whether the objects were exposed or covered When distracting (and “fun”) thoughts were suggested, children waited for more than 10 minutes whether or not the rewards were exposed When no thoughts were suggested, delay time was greatly reduced by reward exposure Diversions Distracting thoughts counteracted the strong effects of exposure to the actual rewards, allowing children to wait about as long as they did when the rewards were covered and no thoughts were suggested. In contrast, when the rewards were covered and the children were cued to think about them, the delay time was as short as when the rewards were exposed and no distractions were suggested. FROM DISTRACTION TO ABSTRACTION Exposure to actual rewards or thoughts of them undermines delay BUT what about symbolic representation? To examine; replicated experiments with slide-presented images of the rewards and control objects CHILDREN WHO SAW IMAGES OF REWARDS WAITED TWICE AS LONG THAN WHEN SHOWN CONTROL IMAGES … Another replication; children told to imagine the rewards as if they were pictures, and other children to imagine reward pictures as if they were real WAITED 18 MIN (I.E. LONGER) IF SHOWN IMAGE OF THE REWARD OR IMAGINED IT AS A PICTURE Stimuli can be represented in hot/arousin
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