Article

Rational snacking: Young children’s decision-making on the marshmallow task is moderated by beliefs about environmental reliability

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Abstract

Children are notoriously bad at delaying gratification to achieve later, greater rewards (e.g., Piaget, 1970)-and some are worse at waiting than others. Individual differences in the ability-to-wait have been attributed to self-control, in part because of evidence that long-delayers are more successful in later life (e.g., Shoda, Mischel, & Peake, 1990). Here we provide evidence that, in addition to self-control, children's wait-times are modulated by an implicit, rational decision-making process that considers environmental reliability. We tested children (M=4;6, N=28) using a classic paradigm-the marshmallow task (Mischel, 1974)-in an environment demonstrated to be either unreliable or reliable. Children in the reliable condition waited significantly longer than those in the unreliable condition (p<0.0005), suggesting that children's wait-times reflected reasoned beliefs about whether waiting would ultimately pay off. Thus, wait-times on sustained delay-of-gratification tasks (e.g., the marshmallow task) may not only reflect differences in self-control abilities, but also beliefs about the stability of the world.

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... The key to this patience was the ability to distract themselves from the treat. The tests have been revisited, and recent research, (Kidd, Palmeri, & Aslin, 2013) has shown that the ability to wait can be affected by the young person's experience of the reliability of the potential reward. The young people in this study came from backgrounds where they have seen the unreliability of family and systems, and their lives had been disrupted as a result. ...
... According to Kidd et al. (2013) they would be unlikely to be able to wait for satisfaction, but this study shows that they can buck this popular stereotype, when the conditions were right for them. ...
... Helen too spoke of her decision to defer educational endeavour until later in her life. These stories are contrary to the stereotypical portrayal of disadvantaged young people as suggested by Evans and English (2002) or Kidd et al. (2013), whereby they are unable to wait for improved outcomes, preferring the guarantee offered by gratification, however small, in the short term. ...
Thesis
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This project aimed to explore the educational experiences of 'looked after children' in one local authority in England. Young people, in the care of the state, have consistently lower educational achievements than their peers who live with their birth families. This situation is not unique to the UK context; it is replicated across Europe and North America. Aiming for an ethnographic study, the project generated much needed qualitative data in order to consider the educational experiences of children in care in Devon. To date much research in this area has focussed on statistical analysis of measured outcomes, and contributory factors which show a bleak picture of underachievement and poor adult outcomes. The design allowed for a more rounded picture of the full educational experience, not just in terms of achievement, but a view of wider educational experiences, giving an in-depth insight into the value that a looked after child places on 'education' in its widest sense. The results of this study add to the small body of research in this area which takes a more sociological view. The researcher worked with young people and older alumni of care, with participants' ages ranging across five decades: 11 to 59, allowing an element of temporality to be considered in a relatively short term project. Experiences were gathered by means of qualitative interviews, focussed on the present with the young people, and using a life history lens when working with adults. The findings were analysed in such a way as to identify educational themes across generations, for those young people who are in the care of the local authority. 3 The study found that for young people in local authority care education is perceived as occurring across their life experiences, a much wider definition than that which happens within formal 'school' environments. This broader view of education encompassed life skills, social skills, sporting skills and digital skills. Participants storied themselves as achievers within this wider view of education. The study showed that young people in care could be reflexive in their learning, they storied themselves as agentic, and exhibited a habitus which helped them to learn who they were, and to recognise their achievements. The study adds to current understanding about the way children in care learn. A visual model of 'Conditions for Learning' has been developed, based around the three theoretical constructs: reflexivity, agency, and habitus. This model has the potential to be applied to larger groups and other young people, to explore the conditions which support their learning. These findings provide important insights which could inform decision-making within both the care and education professions.
... Por otro lado, este hedonismo más propio de sectores socioeconómicos solventes coexiste con altos niveles de desigualdad socioeconómica, donde se estima que un 46,2% de niñas y niños viven en situación de pobreza en América Latina y el Caribe (UNICEF, 2020), condición en la cual podrían estar aprendiendo que el esfuerzo sostenido paga menos que la gratificación inmediata, pues en tales circunstancias es difícil que las ofertas de recompensas por el esfuerzo sostenido se mantengan durante el camino y a largo plazo (Kidd, Palmeri & Aslin, 2013). ...
... Los niños y niñas en contextos poco confiables, donde no tienen certeza de lo que va a pasar, o bien cuya experiencia les indica que las cosas suelen salir mal, o que tienen evidencia de que no pueden tener suficiente confianza en otras personas, no se estarían equivocando cuando deciden no esperar y optar por satisfacer su impulso inmediato, sino que estarían actuando de manera adaptativa a sus circunstancias y su entorno (Kidd et al., 2013). Constantemente las personas toman decisiones que tienen relación con hacer intercambios con otras personas, donde no solo entran en juego los términos propios del intercambio, sino que tiene un lugar destacadola confianza en la otra persona para poder tomar decisiones en el marco de la interacción con esa persona (o su entorno como tal). ...
... Sin embargo, nuevas tendencias investigativas acerca de la tarea de la golosina (Kidd et al., 2013) subrayan la importancia que tiene el contexto social y el hecho de confiar o desconfiar en otras personas para la toma de decisiones. De esta manera, los niños y las niñas que se desenvuelven en contextos poco confiables y con alta incertidumbre no tienen condiciones deseguridad ni de certeza de lo que se puede esperar dentro de su medio por parte de otras personas, lo que les lleva a mostrar menor autocontrol que quienes se desenvuelven en medios más confiables y predecibles. ...
Article
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El presente ensayo tiene el objetivo de mostrar y discutir aspectos clave del autocontrol infantil con base en investigación reciente, así como plantear factores y estrategias para promover el desarrollo de esta importante capacidad. Para ello inicia definiendo el autocontrol, luego identifica algunos de sus beneficios, seguidamente describe el test de la golosina y su análisis en contexto. Luego relaciona el autocontrol con la toma de decisiones, analiza el papel de la confianza, el rol de las personas adultas en su fomento en niñas y niños, y finalmente plantea algunas estrategias para apoyarlo.
... La investigación reciente (Chaverri, Conejo, León & Arrieta, 2020;Kidd, Palmeri & Aslin, 2013) ha logrado determinar que el contexto social en el que se desenvuelven las personas tiene una profunda influencia sobre cómo estas toman decisiones, ya no solamente en términos generales, sino especificando instancias y dinámicas de esta interacción. En este sentido, se ha logrado demostrar que experimentar situaciones de escasez, inestabilidad ambiental y la percepción de vivir en condiciones de estatus socioeconómico bajo, tienen implicaciones directas en las habilidades cognitivas y regulatorias en contextos de atención de necesidades inmediatas, en la habilidad para resolver problemas que impliquen algún grado de razonamiento, así como en el manejo del estrés, el desempeño académico y los hábitos alimenticios (Shah, Mullainathan & Shafir, 2012). ...
... En estudios recientes sobre la relación entre la confianza y el autocontrol con la prueba de la golosina (Chaverri et al., 2020;Kidd et al., 2013), se ha interpretado que la capacidad de postergar la recompensa para obtener una mayor no depende solo de considerar la cantidad de golosinas que se pueden recibir, sino también de una estimación de la probabilidad de obtenerla basada en la confianza que inspira la contraparte. De esta manera, cuando antes de hacerse la prueba de la golosina se ha roto una promesa al niño, este puede generar tanto la creencia de que el experimentador no es confiable, como un sentimiento negativo a esta persona, que se traduciría en una capacidad de espera reducida frente a la golosina. ...
... Los resultados en el test de la golosina contextualizado aquí referidos (Chaverri et al., 2020;Kidd et al, 2013), muestran que las y los niños en condiciones más confiables y estables logran mejores resultados en la postergación de la recompensa. Esta interacción entre el niño y su entorno podrían encontrar mayor sentido desde la perspectiva de la teoría ecológica de la toma de decisiones, la cual asume que la cognición no es un proceso mental aislado del entorno en el que se encuentra la persona, sino que más bien se trata de un proceso en el que la actividad mental aprovecha la estructura del ambiente físico y social (Robbins & Aydede, 2009). ...
Article
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Este artículo propone una discusión sobre los factores psicosociales que influyen en la manera en que los seres humanos toman decisiones relacionadas con el autocontrol, enfatizando en la forma en que lo hacen los niños preescolares en situaciones de postergación de recompensas. Para ello, toma como punto de partida el test de la golosina puesto en contexto social, para analizar la forma en la cual aspectos tales como la racionalidad, las emociones, la condición socioeconómica y particularmente la confianza en los demás influyen en cómo se toman decisiones y cómo se ejerce o no el autocontrol en relación con el postergar recompensas inmediatas para obtener, posteriormente, otras mayores.
... We might thus wonder how prosociality can be the result of both impulsivity and self-control. Self-control and impulsivity in children have been widely measured with delay-of-gratification 1 tasks (Kidd et al., 2013;Mischel et al., 1989;Moffett et al., 2020), which refers to an inter-temporal choice phenomenon where individuals are asked to choose between an immediately available reward versus a larger reward available in the future (Lamichhane et al., 2022;Mischel & Mischel, 1987;Newman et al., 1992;Prencipe et al., 2011). ...
... give to an unknown partner while no difference is observed when they give to a friend partner (Tables S1 and S2). The ability to exert self-control has been previously shown to be a rational behavior (Kidd et al., 2013;Moffett et al., 2020). This ability starts to develop at 5 to 6 years old and is consistently observed in children over 7 (Fehr et al., 2008;Flook et al., 2019) who are able to internalize social norms (Blake et al., 2015) including parochialism (Fehr et al., 2008). ...
Article
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Human prosociality is a valuable but also deeply puzzling trait. While several studies suggest that prosociality is an impulsive behavior, others argue that self-control is necessary to develop prosocial behaviors. Yet, prosociality and self-control in children have rarely been studied jointly. Here, we measured self-control (i.e., delay-of-gratification) and prosociality (i.e., giving in a dictator game) in 250 4-to 6-year-old French schoolchildren. Contrary to previous studies, we found a negative relationship between waiting in the delay-of-gratification task and giving in the dictator game. The effect was especially pronounced when the partner in the dictator game was unknown compared with giving in a dictator game where the partner was a friend. Our results suggest that self-control is not always necessary to act prosocially. Future studies investigating whether and how such pattern develops across the lifespan and across cultures are warranted.
... In addition, children's IC-related behaviors are likewise environmentally adaptive. Kidd, Palmeri, and Aslin (2013), for instance, demonstrated that children who were placed in an unreliable experimental condition (who had previously waited for a greater reward, but were twice disappointed) almost never waited for a second reward, whereas children in the reliable condition (who twice waited, and twice were rewarded) were much more likely to wait for the promised treat. Kidd et al. (2013) argued that children in the unreliable condition who failed the task were behaving rationally, as they had learned from previous experience that delaying gratification would be disadvantageous. ...
... Kidd, Palmeri, and Aslin (2013), for instance, demonstrated that children who were placed in an unreliable experimental condition (who had previously waited for a greater reward, but were twice disappointed) almost never waited for a second reward, whereas children in the reliable condition (who twice waited, and twice were rewarded) were much more likely to wait for the promised treat. Kidd et al. (2013) argued that children in the unreliable condition who failed the task were behaving rationally, as they had learned from previous experience that delaying gratification would be disadvantageous. Extrapolating these findings more broadly, children's performance on tasks should be considered with the environmental utility in mind. ...
Article
The early childhood years are critical for developing executive function (EF) and theory of mind (ToM). Prior literature suggests a robust relationship between EF and ToM; however, this relationship has seldom been investigated in children living in poverty. In addition, few studies have employed comprehensive ToM measures to explore how EF relates to different components of ToM. This study examined longitudinal relations between EF and ToM among 86 preschool children (3- to 5-year-old) attending Head Start programs in the United States. Children completed two EF tasks and a 5-task ToM battery twice, four months apart. Results showed that, for children living in poverty, early EF did not significantly predict later ToM as a composite after controlling for significant covariates. However, the emotionally salient component of ToM predicted children’s later Stroop performance, above and beyond several controls. Findings suggest that for impoverished children living in the U.S., the development of emotional perspective-taking may be particularly important for EF development compared to other components of ToM.
... Regarding the ability to delay gratification, children of the TG increase the number of trading cards invested in the IT, compared to the CG, but we do not find differences in the ICT. In the ability to delay a gratification are involved self-control (Kidd et al., 2013), used to inhibit the desire to obtain the gain immediately, anticipation, the capacity to anticipate the hedonic consequences related to the good in the future, and representation, the tendency to evoke specific interpretative frames about the salience of the delayed reward (Berns et al., 2017). We assumed that the application of these capacities during the training helped children to become more strategic in an IT, a complex situation that involves the ability to anticipate and represents both the immediate and the future gain and that requires to find an equilibrium between them (both ensured, the decision is about the amount of the rewards). ...
... Moreover, we did not evaluate the trust in the experimenter role: an experimenter tested all children in the pre-test and post-test phases, and she came back to deliver the gained trading cards during the games. It is possible that to verify the experimenter's reliability in the first phase has led the children to trust that person even in the second phase, influencing in some way decisions in the post-test (about the importance of the reliability of the experimenter see Kidd et al., 2013). From the methodological point of view, another limit concerns the difficulty of discriminating the effect of learning in the post-test session, although the TG is significantly improved compared to the CG. ...
Article
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Individual economic competence is important but increasingly challenging to manage due to the growing complexity of the nature of economic decisions people must make and the substantial impacts of some of these decisions on their lives. Decision-making ability develops from childhood and is closely related to specific economic components and prosocial behaviour such as fairness, altruism, and delay of gratification. However, while there are financial-education programs for children and young people focusing on financial products, few studies have examined training for the psychological abilities underlying economic decision-making. To promote those psychological skills that contribute to a more socially effective decision-making, we designed and tested a conversational-based training program for primary school children using reflective thinking. A total of 110 (male = 47, female = 63) children aged 8 to 10 years (Mean age = 9.71 years) from two schools in Northern Italy participated in the study with 55 children in a training group and 55 in a control group. All participated in pre-tests measuring their socio-economic background and economics-related skills and abilities. The training group were told stories relaying values of fairness, altruism, and delayed gratification. Both groups participated in task-based post-tests relating to fairness, altruism, and delayed gratification. Results revealed that children in the training group showed significant improvement at the post-test in altruistic and investment behaviour, showing the training efficacy, suggesting that similar programs could be implemented in primary schools as foundational teaching of economics and fiscal responsibility.
... Here we demonstrate an example where an impulsive agent can perform better than a non-impulsive agent, and this example could be extended to other kinds of intertemporal choices by using mismatched expectations across a range of attributes. Recent work with related discounting tasks used to assess weighting of immediate and future rewards, such as the Marshmallow Task [63], have also shown that preference for immediate rewards can be related to the perceived reliability of the experimenters, and trust, rather than trait impulsivity, which suggests that the accuracy of expectations can affect choice behavior [64]. Other work has suggested that immediate choices in the Marshmallow task are rational adaptation to time delays rather than failures of self-control [20]. ...
Article
Choice impulsivity is characterized by the choice of immediate, smaller reward options over future, larger reward options, and is often thought to be associated with negative life outcomes. However, some environments make future rewards more uncertain, and in these environments impulsive choices can be beneficial. Here we examined the conditions under which impulsive vs. non-impulsive decision strategies would be advantageous. We used Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) to model three common decision-making tasks: Temporal Discounting, Information Sampling, and an Explore-Exploit task. We manipulated environmental variables to create circumstances where future outcomes were relatively uncertain. We then manipulated the discount factor of an MDP agent, which affects the value of immediate versus future rewards, to model impulsive and non-impulsive behavior. This allowed us to examine the performance of impulsive and non-impulsive agents in more or less predictable environments. In Temporal Discounting, we manipulated the transition probability to delayed rewards and found that the agent with the lower discount factor (i.e. the impulsive agent) collected more average reward than the agent with a higher discount factor (the non-impulsive agent) by selecting immediate reward options when the probability of receiving the future reward was low. In the Information Sampling task, we manipulated the amount of information obtained with each sample. When sampling led to small information gains, the impulsive MDP agent collected more average reward than the non-impulsive agent. Third, in the Explore-Exploit task, we manipulated the substitution rate for novel options. When the substitution rate was high, the impulsive agent again performed better than the non-impulsive agent, as it explored the novel options less and instead exploited options with known reward values. The results of these analyses show that impulsivity can be advantageous in environments that are unexpectedly uncertain.
... Children who are comfortable in an isolated lab environment following instructions from an unfamiliar experimenter for assessments of executive function may be the same children willing to follow instructions from an unfamiliar experimenter on intelligence test subscales. For example, 4-year-old children's trust in an experimenter influences their willingness to wait on delay of gratification tests (Kidd, Palmeri, & Aslin, 2013;Michaelson & Munakata, 2016), and social trust may explain longitudinal links between 4-year-old's willingness to delay gratification and academic achievement at 15 years . Working memory updating, which is often considered a core component of executive functioning (Karr et al., 2018;Miyake & Friedman, 2012), may be more strongly correlated with academic assessments of literacy and mathematics than other components of executive functioning (e.g., Ahmed et al., 2019;Dekker et al., 2017;Jacob & Parkinson, 2015;Spiegel et al., 2021;St Clair-Thompson & Gathercole, 2006;Van der Ven et al., 2012). ...
Preprint
Performance on lab assessments of executive functions predicts academic achievement and other positive life outcomes. A primary goal of research on executive functions has been to design interventions that improve outcomes like academic achievement by improving executive functions. These interventions typically involve extensive practice on abstract lab-based tasks and lead to improvements on these practiced tasks. However, interventions rarely improve performance on non-practiced tasks and rarely benefit outcomes like academic achievement. Contemporary frameworks of executive function development suggest that executive functions develop and are engaged within personal, social, historical, and cultural contexts. Abstract lab-based tasks do not well-capture the real-world contexts that require executive functions and should not be expected to provide generalized benefits outside of the lab. We propose a perspective for understanding individual differences in performance on executive function assessments that focuses on contextual influences on executive functions. We extend this contextual approach to training executive function engagement, rather than training executive functions directly. First, interventions should incorporate task content that is contextually relevant to the targeted outcome. Second, interventions should encourage engaging executive functions through reinforcement and contextual relevance, which may better translate to real-world outcomes than training executive functions directly. While such individualized executive functions interventions do not address systemic factors that greatly impact outcomes like academic achievement, given the extensive resources devoted to improving executive functions, we hypothesize that interventions designed to encourage children’s engagement of executive functions hold more promise for impacting real-world outcomes than interventions designed to improve executive function capacities.
... In these tests, children were given a marshmallow with the promise that if they could sit and not eat it an adult would eventually return to the room and give another marshmallow. Kidd, Palmeri, and Aslin (2013) have recently shown that the children who eat the first marshmallow are largely influenced by environmental factors including lack of trust that the adult will actually return to give a second marshmallow. The decision to eat the first marshmallow, in other words, can be a reasonable one having nothing really to do with resilience. ...
Article
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This work of critical social theory explores how formal music education in modern capitalist societies mirrors the hierarchical, means-ends, one-dimensional structures of capitalism. So, rather than consistently or reliably empowering and emancipating children musically, school music can tend to marginalize, exploit, repress, and alienate. The paper begins with a review of critical theories of social class, with emphasis on the roots of social class in historical beliefs about sociocultural evolution. Then, after considering in general terms how social class is overtly and covertly framed in music education, this framing is discussed in more detail within extant conceptualizations of musical taste, musical performance, and musical experience.
... That is, increased community trust reduced future discounting. A similar connection has been identified between trait selfcontrol and uncertainty, in which children became less willing to delay gratification (i.e., waiting for a greater reward in the future) when the experimenter did not appear to be trustworthy (Kidd, Palmeri, & Aslin, 2013). ...
Article
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Long-term thinking and voluntary resource sharing are two distinctive traits of human nature. Across three experiments (N=1,082), I propose a causal connection: Sometimes people are generous because they think about the future. Participants were randomly assigned to either focus on the present or the future and then made specific decisions in hypothetical scenarios. In Study 1 (N=200), future-focused participants shared more money in a public dictator game than present-focused participants (+39%), and they were willing to donate more money to charity (+61%). Study 2 (N=410) replicated the positive effect of future-focus on dictator giving when the choice was framed as public (+36%), but found no such effect when the choice was framed as private. That is, focusing on the future made participants more generous only when others would know their identity. Study 3 was a high-powered and pre-registered replication of Study 1 (N=472), including a few extensions. Once again, future-focused participants gave more money to charity in a public donation scenario (+40%), and they were more likely to volunteer for the same charity (+17%). As predicted, the effect was mediated by reputational concern, indicating that future-orientation can make people more generous because it also makes them more attuned to the social consequences of their choices. Taken together, the results suggest that focusing on the future promotes reputation-based generosity . By stimulating voluntary resource sharing, a central function of human foresight might be to support cooperation in groups and society.
... Children who are comfortable in an isolated lab environment following instructions from an unfamiliar experimenter for assessments of executive function may be the same children willing to follow instructions from an unfamiliar experimenter on intelligence test subscales. For example, 4-year-old children's trust in an experimenter influences their willingness to wait on delay of gratification tests (Kidd, Palmeri, & Aslin, 2013;Michaelson & Munakata, 2016), and social trust may explain longitudinal links between 4-year-old's willingness to delay gratification and academic achievement at 15 years . This view could explain why individual lab-based measures of executive function may correlate better with academic achievement measures also administered individually than executive function measures assessed while children are interacting in social groups (e.g., marching to music together, Ahmed, Grammer, & Morrison, 2021). ...
Article
Performance on lab assessments of executive functions predicts academic achievement and other positive life outcomes. A primary goal of research on executive functions has been to design interventions that improve outcomes like academic achievement by improving executive functions. These interventions typically involve extensive practice on abstract lab-based tasks and lead to improvements on these practiced tasks. However, interventions rarely improve performance on non-practiced tasks and rarely benefit outcomes like academic achievement. Contemporary frameworks of executive function development suggest that executive functions develop and are engaged within personal, social, historical, and cultural contexts. Abstract lab-based tasks do not well-capture the real-world contexts that require executive functions and should not be expected to provide generalized benefits outside of the lab. We propose a perspective for understanding individual differences in performance on executive function assessments that focuses on contextual influences on executive functions. We extend this contextual approach to training executive function engagement, rather than training executive functions directly. First, interventions should incorporate task content that is contextually relevant to the targeted outcome. Second, interventions should encourage engaging executive functions through reinforcement and contextual relevance, which may better translate to real-world outcomes than training executive functions directly. While such individualized executive functions interventions do not address systemic factors that greatly impact outcomes like academic achievement, given the extensive resources devoted to improving executive functions, we hypothesize that interventions designed to encourage children’s engagement of executive functions hold more promise for impacting real-world outcomes than interventions designed to improve executive function capacities.
... Other studies on children and self-control have found that certain environmental and social factors, such as the reliability and trustworthiness of the adults around the children, can impact the children's self-control (Kidd et al. 2013;Moffett et al. 2020), and that cooperation helps with delaying gratification (Koomen et al. 2020). These findings point to a certain variation in our capacity for self-control-whatever skills and capacities constitute self-control, they are not rigid across time and different environments. ...
... In this way, they are more likely to avoid negative behaviors by using cognitive distraction strategies (e.g., talking to themselves, singing, playing with their hands or feet), rather than giving immediate impulsive responses (Mischel, 1974). Moreover, it is noted that self-control skills play a crucial role as children resort to these strategies (Kidd et al., 2013;Metcalfe & Mischel, 1999). According to research, self-control is an important component of social skills Tutkun & Dinçer, 2019). ...
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This study aims to investigate the relation between preschoolers’ social skills as a mediator and delay of gratification as a moderator, and their cognitive distraction strategies and problem behaviors. The participants of this study were 100 randomly selected preschoolers aged 3 to 5 years, who were attending a private preschool in Ankara, the capital of Turkey. Data was obtained through Marshmallow Test to evaluate cognitive distraction strategies with regard to delay of gratification, and the Social Skills Improvement System Rating Scales (SSIR-RS) to assess the preschoolers’ social skills and problem behaviors. The obtained data was analyzed with correlation analysis and mediator variable analysis. The findings revealed that preschoolers’ cognitive distraction strategies, social skills, and problem behaviors are significantly correlated. Besides, as problem behaviors of the preschoolers increased, their use of social skills and cognitive distraction strategies decreased. Furthermore, it was determined that cognitive distraction strategies were a significant predictor of problem behaviors. Finally, it was concluded that social skills had a mediating role in the relationship between preschoolers’ cognitive distraction strategies and their problem behaviors. These findings highlight possible interventions to boost children’s development by enhancing their social skills and cognitive distraction strategies, as well as reducing problem behaviors.
... But context matters for delay of gratification, and laboratory studies show children are capable of using information from the context to decide whether to delay or not (Lee and Carlson, 2015). In one such study, 4.5-year-old children opted not to delay or delayed for a shorter time when the adult who promised a reward had just proven themselves untrustworthy (Kidd et al., 2013). In a correlational study, children in impoverished settings who chose not to delay actually had higher behavioral selfregulation, academic skills, and fewer teacher-rated problem behaviors, relative to children who consistently waited for a series of small rewards (Duran and Grissmer, 2020). ...
Article
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The need for strengths-based perspectives on how children develop social–emotional learning (SEL) is especially pronounced in the context of research conducted with communities challenged by few resources and a history of oppression. This study included 313 underserved, primarily Black children who were assessed with several SEL building block measures at kindergarten entry. Specifically, we asked which SEL building blocks contributed to longitudinal teacher ratings of overall SEL on the Devereux Strengths and Skills Assessment (DESSA), collected four times during kindergarten and first grade. In separate models accounting for classroom membership, multiple kindergarten-entry SEL building blocks, including theory of mind, emotion, and situational knowledge, explained variance in teacher perceptions of children’s overall SEL at various time points after controlling for working memory and expressive vocabulary. In a single model that included all kindergarten-entry SEL building blocks, behavioral self-regulation most consistently predicted teachers’ overall SEL ratings over time. Even so, other SEL building blocks including theory of mind and emotion and situational knowledge should not be discounted because they also predicted variance in teacher-rated SEL at individual time points. A major implication of this study points to the importance of directly assessing building blocks of SEL at kindergarten entry, especially behavioral self-regulation, to effectively support children from underserved communities.
... [66]), the untrustworthiness of people promising later rewards (e.g. [67]) and a range of other factors that can lead decision-makers not to delay gratification but that have little or nothing to do with self-control failure (reviewed in [68]). The present results complement these previous perspectives and add yet another reason to doubt that choices of LL rewards are interpretable as self-control successes. ...
Article
Intertemporal decision-making has long been assumed to measure self-control, with prominent theories treating choices of smaller, sooner rewards as failed attempts to override immediate temptation. If this view is correct, people should be more confident in their intertemporal decisions when they ‘successfully’ delay gratification than when they do not. In two pre-registered experiments with built-in replication, adult participants ( n = 117) made monetary intertemporal choices and rated their confidence in having made the right decisions. Contrary to assumptions of the self-control account, confidence was not higher when participants chose delayed rewards. Rather, participants were more confident in their decisions when possible rewards were further apart in time-discounted subjective value, closer to the present, and larger in magnitude. Demonstrating metacognitive insight, participants were more confident in decisions that better aligned with their separate valuation of possible rewards. Decisions made with less confidence were more prone to changes-of-mind and more susceptible to a patience-enhancing manipulation. Together, our results establish that confidence in intertemporal choice tracks uncertainty in estimating and comparing the value of possible rewards—just as it does in decisions unrelated to self-control. Our findings challenge self-control views and instead cast intertemporal choice as a form of value-based decision-making about future possibilities. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Thinking about possibilities: mechanisms, ontogeny, functions and phylogeny’.
... Rather, confidence was associated with the difference in subjective valuation between the two possibilities, such that a participant might in fact be highly confident in selecting $15 now if they independently valued that reward-time combination much more highly than $20 in a month. These findings align with recent research [85] questioning self-control accounts of the classic 'marshmallow test' for children [86], further showing that comparisons of mutually exclusive possibilities are integral to human intertemporal decision-making. ...
Article
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Humans possess the remarkable capacity to imagine possible worlds and to demarcate possibilities and impossibilities in reasoning. We can think about what might happen in the future and consider what the present would look like had the past turned out differently. We reason about cause and effect, weigh up alternative courses of action and regret our mistakes. In this theme issue, leading experts from across the life sciences provide ground-breaking insights into the proximate questions of how thinking about possibilities works and develops, and the ultimate questions of its adaptive functions and evolutionary history. Together, the contributions delineate neurophysiological, cognitive and social mechanisms involved in mentally simulating possible states of reality; and point to conceptual changes in the understanding of singular and multiple possibilities during human development. The contributions also demonstrate how thinking about possibilities can augment learning, decision-making and judgement, and highlight aspects of the capacity that appear to be shared with non-human animals and aspects that may be uniquely human. Throughout the issue, it becomes clear that many developmental milestones achieved during childhood, and many of the most significant evolutionary and cultural triumphs of the human species, can only be understood with reference to increasingly complex reasoning about possibilities. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Thinking about possibilities: mechanisms, ontogeny, functions and phylogeny’.
... In doing so, the messages also tend to drop the uncertainty about the outcome (e.g., "smoking kills" on cigarette packages; while there is less controversy now that smoking can cause lung cancer, the association is not completely deterministic; some outcome uncertainty remains). 7 Such contextual cues can influence behavior even at an early stage: A reliable social context moderates children's propensity to wait for the second treat (Kidd, Palmeri, & Aslin, 2013) in the classic marshmallow paradigm on delay of gratification (Mischel & Ebbesen, 1970;Metcalfe & Mischel, 1999). Also cross-cultural studies imply that sociocultural factors affect children's self-regulation in this task (Lamm et al., 2018). ...
... One of the most well-known and much replicated experiments (Marshmallow test) shows that children are not very good at delaying immediate gratification and that is a skill that needs to be systematically developed (Mischel et al., 1972). Kidd, Palmeri, & Aslin (2013) demonstrate further that being able to delay gratification is also significantly influenced by the environment as by innate ability. Children who experienced reliable interactions immediately before the marshmallow task waited on average four times longer-12 versus three minutes-than youngsters in similar but unreliable situations. ...
... Children may cope with noisy and overstimulating home environments by blocking out extraneous stimuli, which could translate to inattention in school settings (Jaffee et al., 2012). Additionally, children in unstable environments may learn to select an immediate reward over a less certain future reward, leading children to be less likely to delay gratification (Kidd, Palmeri, & Aslin, 2013). Thus, behaviours associated with ADHD may be reactions to, or exacerbated by, chaotic households. ...
Article
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Background: Chaotic home environments may contribute to children's attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. However, ADHD genetic risk may also influence household chaos. This study investigated whether children in chaotic households had more ADHD symptoms, if mothers and children with higher ADHD genetic risk lived in more chaotic households, and the joint association of genetic risk and household chaos on the longitudinal course of ADHD symptoms across childhood. Methods: Participants were mothers and children from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, a UK population-representative birth cohort of 2,232 twins. Children's ADHD symptoms were assessed at ages 5, 7, 10 and 12 years. Household chaos was rated by research workers at ages 7, 10 and 12, and by mother's and twin's self-report at age 12. Genome-wide ADHD polygenic risk scores (PRS) were calculated for mothers (n = 880) and twins (n = 1,999); of these, n = 871 mothers and n = 1,925 children had information on children's ADHD and household chaos. Results: Children in more chaotic households had higher ADHD symptoms. Mothers and children with higher ADHD PRS lived in more chaotic households. Children's ADHD PRS was associated with household chaos over and above mother's PRS, suggesting evocative gene-environment correlation. Children in more chaotic households had higher baseline ADHD symptoms and a slower rate of decline in symptoms. However, sensitivity analyses estimated that gene-environment correlation accounted for a large proportion of the association of household chaos on ADHD symptoms. Conclusions: Children's ADHD genetic risk was independently associated with higher levels of household chaos, emphasising the active role of children in shaping their home environment. Our findings suggest that household chaos partly reflects children's genetic risk for ADHD, calling into question whether household chaos directly influences children's core ADHD symptoms. Our findings highlight the importance of considering parent and child genetic risk in relation to apparent environmental exposures.
... Neuroimaging studies provide converging evidence, with activation in prefrontal neural regions involved with executive function relating to delay-of-gratification performance (e.g., Luerssen et al., 2015). Delay of gratification is also influenced by social contextual information, such as trustworthiness, cooperation, and group norms (e.g., Doebel & Munakata, 2018;Kidd et al., 2013;Koomen et al., 2020;Ma et al., 2020;Michaelson & Munakata, 2016;Munakata et al., 2020). For instance, children are more likely to delay gratification when they believe that in-group members delayed gratification and out-group members did not, compared with the reverse scenario (Doebel & Munakata, 2018). ...
Article
Resisting immediate temptations in favor of larger later rewards predicts academic success, socioemotional competence, and health. These links with delaying gratification appear from early childhood and have been explained by cognitive and social factors that help override tendencies toward immediate gratification. However, some tendencies may actually promote delaying gratification. We assessed children’s delaying gratification for different rewards across two cultures that differ in customs around waiting. Consistent with our preregistered prediction, results showed that children in Japan ( n = 80) delayed gratification longer for food than for gifts, whereas children in the United States ( n = 58) delayed longer for gifts than for food. This interaction may reflect cultural differences: Waiting to eat is emphasized more in Japan than in the United States, whereas waiting to open gifts is emphasized more in the United States than in Japan. These findings suggest that culturally specific habits support delaying gratification, providing a new way to understand why individuals delay gratification and why this behavior predicts life success.
... Thus, the ability to wait for later rewards is desirable. In this context, children's decisions to wait for rewards also depends on how much they trust their environment (Mahrer, 1956;Kidd et al., 2013). I therefore hypothesized that individuals who feel safe would be more willing to wait. ...
Article
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Our state of consciousness is crucial for our ability to follow suggestions. Suggestions in turn are a powerful tool to induce positive emotional states. In my research, I suggest positive feelings of safety during hypnosis. This is a positive emotional state of low arousal and low anxiety. Both arousal and anxiety affect our decision-making. However, when we feel safe due to hypnotic suggestions of safety, we do not act riskier. Instead, EEG brain activity shows that monetary rewards get less important and delayed rewards are less devalued compared to immediate rewards when we feel safe. These results open promising perspectives for the use of hypnosis to reduce impulsive behavior, for example, in substance abuse. Therapeutic suggestions of safety even work in highly stressful environments like the intensive care unit. I showed that patients tolerate non-invasive ventilation much better when they get the suggestion to feel safe. The effects of positive therapeutic suggestions delivered during hypnosis even persist over time. Post-hypnotic suggestions are associations between a certain emotional state and a trigger that elicits this emotional state after hypnosis is over. I showed that post-hypnotic suggestions of safety are effective weeks after the therapeutic session. Therefore, I present a therapeutic technique that uses a special state of consciousness, hypnosis, to induce positive emotional states. The effects of this technique are very strong and long lasting. My goal is to provide scientific evidence for the use of hypnotherapeutic techniques to increase the number of people who apply and profit from them.
... Children with self-control abilities may resist short-term temptations in order to pursue difficult goals. In contrast, children who possess less self-control are less likely to persist toward these goals, so they achieve less (Kidd et al., 2013). Notably, stronger self-regulation skills are also related longitudinally to developmental advantages (Pahigiannis and Glos, 2018). ...
Article
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In the early childhood period, self-regulation and delay of gratification are important skills. The lack of these skills may have a negative impact on children's development and learning. In this study, the relationship between preschool children's delay of gratification and self-regulation skills was examined. Fifty-seven preschool children from Ankara, the capital of Turkey, aged between four and five, participated in this study. Delay of gratification was measured with Marshmallow Test, whereas self-regulation skills were assessed with Preschool Self-Regulation Assessment. Logistic regression analysis was performed to determine the variables that predict the delay of gratification. The results indicated that self-regulation, particularly in terms of impulse control and effortful control, affects the delay of gratification, and that gender is not a determining factor in the delay of gratification. Besides, children's success, particularly in impulse control and effortful control, was found to increase the delay of gratification. Identifying children with extreme difficulty in the delay of gratification may help to detect those with poor self-regulation skills. Accordingly, various tasks could be designed to improve self-regulation skills in early childhood, and potential problems regarding delay of gratification and self-regulation could be minimized. This is likely to have a positive impact on society as a whole.
... Firstly, another important factor to be taken into account is students' trust in environmental reliability, or more precisely, in the academic system's actual rewards. In a modification of the classic "delay of gratification" task (where children had to choose between one marshmallow directly or two after a waiting period), Kidd et al. (2013) demonstrated that giving children a hint that the experimenter was not reliable led to a reduction in children's waiting times. Considering these results, one could argue that the variance in PhD-intention is also due to differences in student's trust in actually getting rewards (e.g., a well-paid position after PhD-completion). ...
Article
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The purpose of the present investigation is to analyze the relation of frustration tolerance and delay of gratification with PhD-intention and expectations. We conducted one correlational and two experimental studies. In Study 1 ( N 1 = 171 undergraduates), we found the hypothesized positive association between delay of gratification and frustration tolerance and the intention to obtain a PhD. In Studies 2 and 3, we used experimental vignette designs. In Study 2, doctoral students and postdocs ( N 2 = 180) evaluated a fictitious student regarding PhD-intention and a successful PhD-process. As expected, students with high gratification delay and frustration tolerance were judged as more likely to start and complete a PhD than students described low in these volitional traits. In Study 3, we contrasted Study 2’s findings by asking employees of the private sector ( N 3 = 150) to rate the same students’ intention to join a company instead. None of the factors influenced participants’ judgments when it comes to a non-academic career track.
... These effects persist even after controlling for alternate factors like the mother's overall mood level and socioeconomic status, suggesting that there is something important about the pattern of unpredictable maternal input, though other explanations, including shared genetics, are also possible. We know that children are attuned to the statistics of their environment (Schulz, 2012), behave rationally when encountering unreliable others (Kidd et al., 2013;McGuire & Kable, 2013;Michaelson & Munakata, 2016), and show trauma-related differences in beliefs about the likelihood of receiving rewards (Hanson, van den Bos, et al., 2017). Thus, it is possible that early exposure to unpredictability in the parent-child relationship may result in biases in a priori expectations about the underlying reward structure of the environment. ...
Article
The developing brain is highly malleable, meaning that children are acutely sensitive to their early experiences, for better or for worse. Early adversity significantly increases the risk for psychopathology and learning challenges. Recent work in animal models powerfully suggests that the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a major source of dopaminergic projections to the rest of the brain, is a key mediator for how early stressful experiences can become biologically embedded: in mice, absent or disrupted caregiving results in latent vulnerability of the dopaminergic system to stress well into adulthood. Thus, it may be that early adversity causes a shift in the developmental trajectory of the VTA, with cascading effects on later motivational and socioemotional processes. However, little is known about whether similar disruptions in VTA circuitry are detectable in children. Thus, I leveraged fMRI methods in 4- to 10-year-old children, to examine the functional integrity of dopaminergic circuitry early in development. In Chapter 2, I tested whether stress exposure relates to VTA resting-state functional connectivity. I found an age x stress exposure interaction, such that only children with lower stress exposure showed a positive relationship between age and VTA-mPFC connectivity, consistent with an interpretation that high stress exposure is related to blunted VTA maturation. Chapter 3 examined children’s neural responses to naturalistic emotional content using movie fMRI, and linked to parenting behaviors observed in the lab. I found that children who experienced more negative parenting showed reduced VTA activity during positive emotion scenes. Finally, Chapter 4 examined curiosity, a behavior that is supported by dopaminergic circuitry, and that encourages greater learning by engaging positive interest and intrinsic motivation. I tested whether individual differences in curiosity are reflected in resting-state connectivity patterns, and can be predicted by environmental experiences. Together, this work suggests that early experiences play a critical role in tuning dopaminergic neurocircuitry in children, with potentially enduring consequences for reward and socioemotional processing. This has implications both for education and for policy: how can we protect children in negative environments, and provide positive support that will allow them to best thrive as learners.
... Figure 2b presents hazard functions for two reward magnitudes. The probability of obtaining the LL reward is greater with µ LL /µ SS = 3 than with µ LL /µ SS = 2. Figure 2b can also accommodate the finding that environmental reliability and trust in the experimenter affect outcomes in the marshmallow test [31]: in unreliable or nonstationary environments, the expected LL reward is lower than the advertised reward, and the DGMDP is based on reward expectations. Second, a reanalysis of data from a population of children performing the marshmallow task shows a declining hazard rate over the task period of 7 minutes [12]. ...
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Individuals are often faced with temptations that can lead them astray from long-term goals. We're interested in developing interventions that steer individuals toward making good initial decisions and then maintaining those decisions over time. In the realm of financial decision making, a particularly successful approach is the prize-linked savings account: individuals are incentivized to make deposits by tying deposits to a periodic lottery that awards bonuses to the savers. Although these lotteries have been very effective in motivating savers across the globe, they are a one-size-fits-all solution. We investigate whether customized bonuses can be more effective. We formalize a delayed-gratification task as a Markov decision problem and characterize individuals as rational agents subject to temporal discounting, a cost associated with effort, and fluctuations in willpower. Our theory is able to explain key behavioral findings in intertemporal choice. We created an online delayed-gratification game in which the player scores points by selecting a queue to wait in and then performing a series of actions to advance to the front. Data collected from the game is fit to the model, and the instantiated model is then used to optimize predicted player performance over a space of incentives. We demonstrate that customized incentive structures can improve an individual's goal-directed decision making.
... The context is also important. In particular, dynamic environments reduce adaptation capacity (Kerstholt, 1994;Kidd et al., 2013). ...
Article
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Policy overreaction is a common phenomenon, especially in complex and emergency situations where politicians are led to make decisions fast. In these emergency decisions, emotions run generally high and cognitive processes are often impaired. The conditions of policy overreaction are in place as emotions overwhelm decision makers’ rational processes. Drawing on the response patterns of three countries to the COVID-19 pandemic, we develop a process model of policy overreaction which describes the effects of negative emotions and institutional isomorphism on policy decision-making. Our model highlights four critical stages: negative emotions buildup, propagation of fear, isomorphic decision-making, and leading to an intractable crisis. This article shows precisely how the cascading effect of negative emotions, particularly fear, is contagious and spreads to generate crowd effects, which bend considerably policy makers’ ability to make rational decisions. Our theory provides a better understanding of the process by which policy overreaction takes place.
... These evidence from developed countries would strength the credibility of our conclusion, that is, preschool self-control may be a predictor of academic achievement for Chinese primary school students. However, children's delay of gratification outcomes could be influenced by the trustworthiness of the experimenter (Michaelson & Munakata, 2016), environmental reliability (Kidd, Palmeri, & Aslin, 2013) and children' emotions (Shimoni, Asbe, Eyal, & Berger, 2016). The marshmallow experiment might be associated with measurement error (Cunha et al., 2010) for example the ability to exercise self-control. ...
Article
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A child’s ability to resist temptation is an important non-cognitive skill and associated with lifetime benefits. Using a longitudinal dataset, this study links Chinese preschoolers’ delay of gratification to their later scholastic performance during primary education. An empirical investigation is conducted to explore the potential relation between them. The results show that this personality trait, revealed at age 4–5 years by using the marshmallow experiment, has a long-lasting and positive contribution, even after accounting for students’ cognitive performance and other non-cognitive skills measured at age 10–11 years. Our findings in a developing country context are supported by evidence from developed countries.
... In comparison, initiatory self-control (inhibition of impulsive behavior in favor of a long term, goal-oriented reward) finds alignment with the delay of gratification concept [23]. Considered a true test of self-regulation (with delay of gratification predicting similar patterns as SR for adaptive behavior in adulthood [24] evidence suggests that the delay is malleable [25][26][27][28]; and that there is a volitional (emotional) element to the regulatory behavior required for success in the test. This is not attributed to executive control alone but instead related to the goal-value and subsequent motivations toward successfully completing the task, which is supported by Self-Determination Theory (SDT [29]). ...
Article
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Self-regulation (SR) is considered foundational in early life, with robust evidence demonstrating a link between early self-regulation and longer-term outcomes. This has been the impetus for a growing body of intervention research into how best to support early SR development, yet approaches and effects are diverse, which complicates an understanding of the critical characteristics for effective early SR intervention. Using Self-Determination Theory (SDT) as a guiding framework, we present a scoping review of early SR-intervention research to identify the characteristics of pre-school interventions that show significant and strong effects on young children’s SR. Studies from peer-reviewed journal articles were included if they evaluated a SR intervention with pre-school children, were published between 2010 and 2020, written in English, and included a SR outcome measure. This yielded 19 studies, each reporting the efficacy of a different SR intervention. Results showed that content factors (what interventions do) interacted with their implementation (how, when, and by whom interventions are implemented) to discriminate the more versus less efficacious interventions. Through the lens of SDT, results further suggested that targeting competence through encouragement and feedback, and nurturing children’s autonomy distinguished more from less effective interventions. Relatedness was least able to discriminate intervention efficacy.
... Discounting rate (Kirby et al., 1999;Richards et al., 1999) marshmallow test, which uses a desirable food-based paradigm (Kidd et al., 2013). Although the marshmallow test has been traditionally applied to children, alternative versions of the paradigm have been developed for adults which use a variety of snacks in the context of a game (Forstmeier et al., 2011;Mischel et al., 1989). ...
Article
The study of self-control occurs in many different types of experimental settings using a wide range of methodologies. In addition, measures of self-control vary in their procedures and operational definitions from simple questionnaires to complex scenarios where individuals must choose to act or not. The present summary draws on trends within the literature using widely accepted measures of self-control. The measures are organized based on established paradigms in the literature and focus on three categories: executive functioning tasks, delay of gratification tasks, and subjective-report surveys. We also include an “additional measures” category to capture measures that do not readily fit in these three categories. Finally, we discuss recent approaches to the scientific exploration of self-control and integrate the categories of measures used here within these approaches. This integration incorporates a wide range of research paradigms and provides direction for future studies.
... Our research joins studies that tested how different manipulations of the social environment influence preschoolers' DoG. Research has found, for example, that children waited less for a delayed reward when the experimenter acted unreliably toward them (Kidd, Palmeri, & Aslin, 2013;Moffett, Flannagan, & Shah, 2020) or toward another adult (Michaelson & Munakata, 2016), but they waited longer when the experimenter expressed warmth toward them (Leonard, Berkowitz, & Shusterman, 2014). Studies have also found that social norms and expectations influence preschoolers' DoG. ...
Article
This research examined whether priming very young children with a specific positive emotion would enhance their pursuit of the goal associated with that emotion. Specifically, we focused on the influence of two distinct positive emotions—pride and joy, each of which is associated with a distinct type of goal (long-term and short-term goals, respectively)—on child delay of gratification (DoG). DoG is a specific form of self-regulation that requires forgoing an immediately desired goal for the sake of a larger delayed goal. We examined whether this influence exists among preschool-aged children, an age at which emotion-related and self-regulation abilities are still developing. Across two experiments, preschoolers heard a story about another child’s emotional experience of either pride or joy and then completed a DoG task. Experiment 2 was a replication of Experiment 1 using a different set of emotional scenarios. As predicted, pride-primed children showed a greater preference for larger delayed rewards over smaller immediate rewards, demonstrating enhanced DoG abilities compared with joy-primed children. These findings imply that the motivational components underlying discrete positive emotions (as well as the associations between emotions and goal pursuits) are integral to children’s emotional processes. Furthermore, our findings suggest that these emotional processes influence behavior even among very young children who have not yet fully developed the relevant abilities.
... Interestingly, some data suggest that those children who did wait longer had better lifetime outcomes when interviewed some 30 years later, including "academic competence and scholastic aptitude test scores, self-regulation, healthy weight, effective coping with stress and frustration, social responsibility, and positive peer relations" (Carlson et al., 2018(Carlson et al., , p. 1396note Mischel et al., 1988). Although social environmental issues-such as trusting experimenters to fulfill their promises-can strongly affect the results (Kidd et al., 2013;Michaelson et al., 2013;note Stevens et al., 2011 for research on bonobos, Pan paniscus), the task has often become an indicator of levels of executive function (Miyake & Friedman, 2012). ...
Article
Delay of gratification, the ability to forgo an immediate reward and wait to gain a reward better in either quality or quantity, has been used as a metric for temporal discounting, self-control, and the ability to plan for the future in both humans (particularly children) and nonhumans. Several avian species have been able to wait for a better quality reward for up to 15 min, but none seem able to wait for a better quantity reward for any significant period of time. Using a token system (where each wooden heart represents 1 nut piece), we demonstrated that a Grey parrot-who had previously waited up to 15 min for better quality-would now wait for better quantity, again for up to 15 min. Thus, symbolic distancing-that is, removal of the immediate presence of the hedonic item-enabled him to perform at levels comparable with young children on the classic test and might be a viable method for training executive function. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
... In this study, low income and cumulative risk were correlated with lower levels of DA, but not changes over time. Other research also shows that contexts characterized by scarcity or unpredictability are associated with lower DA or choices (Griskevicius et al., 2011;Kidd et al., 2013). The stability of the low income and cumulative risk contexts might account for low levels but not changes in DA from early to middle childhood observed in this study. ...
Article
This study examined whether effortful control (executive control [EC], delay ability [DA]) accounted for the effects of early-childhood contextual factors (income, cumulative risk, parenting) on middle-childhood adjustment (social competence, internalizing and externalizing problems), or whether contextual factors account for observed associations between effortful control and adjustment. A sample of children and parents (N = 306) were assessed when children were 3-, 5-, and 8-years. Age-3 income and cumulative risk predicted changes in age-8 EC. Also, age-3 parenting predicted changes in effortful control. Warmth and limit setting predicted increases in EC, whereas negativity predicted decreases in DA from the age of 3 to 5, and scaffolding predicted increases in EC and DA from the age of 5 to 8. In turn, age-8 EC was associated with higher social competence. However, neither age-8 EC nor DA was associated with internalizing or externalizing above the effects of age-8 stress (negative life events). The findings indicate that early-childhood income, adversity, and parenting are relevant in predicting effortful control development into middle-childhood, and in turn, middle-childhood social competence. However, concurrent stress appears more relevant to adjustment problems, implying some of the effects of effortful control might be accounted for by the context of risk.
... Note, however, that deviations from MVT do not necessarily imply that participants were behaving suboptimally. It is possible that all participants were making reasonable decisions based on expectations that were shaped by their environment (Kidd, Palmeri, & Aslin, 2013). For instance, the finding that people with greater ADI scores also had greater imprecision parameters might reflect a rational strategy, where these participants prefer not to invest too much time and effort on decisions that are likely to produce comparable outcomes. ...
Article
Residents living in neighborhoods marked by concentrated disadvantage (i.e., poverty, joblessness, residential segregation) contend with resource scarcity. Theories indicate that competition for resources from an insufficient pool within the context of concentrated disadvantage may be one factor that promotes social norm violations. A limited body of experimental research has explored the impact of concentrated disadvantage on decision-making about obtaining resources, and in other research, the potential connection between concentrated disadvantage and engagement in social norm violation. Participants (N = 112) completed patch-foraging tasks in resource-rich and resource-depleted (i.e., scarce) environments. Participants then completed a social norm foraging task where they could trespass and forage on their neighbor's land, which was resource-rich compared to their own. Computational modeling was used to evaluate explore-exploit decision-making in the resource-rich and resource-depleted environments. The frequency of crossing and foraging was used to capture social norm violations. Results indicated that individuals who experience higher levels of concentrated disadvantage in the real-world made fewer resource-maximizing decisions in resource-rich and resource-depleted environments. Model fits revealed that the performance difference in the resource-rich and resource-depleted environments for individuals higher on concentrated disadvantage was due to difficulty in discriminating between competing choice options and not due to a general bias toward exploring or exploiting. Finally, when foraging in a relatively depleted environment compared to the enriched environment of their neighbor, the majority of participants, regardless of experienced real-world concentrated disadvantage, engaged in social norm violations. Overall, resource scarcity, whether in the real world or experimental context, affects cognition and behavior.
... More sophisticated judgments about promises emerge later in childhood (Keller et al., 1998;Keller & Edelstein, 1985;Hussar & Horvath, 2013). Five-year-olds, but not younger children, trust someone who has previously kept a promise more than someone who has previously broken a promise (Isella, Kanngiesser, & Tomasello, 2019;Rotenberg, 1980; but see, Kidd, Palmeri, & Aslin, 2013, for tentative evidence in younger children). In addition, 6year-olds correctly infer that the failure to perform a promised action makes the promisee unhappy (Bernicot & Laval, 1996). ...
Article
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There are sometimes legitimate reasons for breaking a promise when circumstances change. We investigated 3- and 5-year-old German children’s understanding of promise breaking in prosocial (helping someone else) and selfish (playing with someone else) conditions. In Study 1 (n = 80, 50% girls), preschoolers initially kept their own promise in all conditions. When they eventually broke their promise, 3-year-olds’ justifications mostly referenced salient events, whereas 5-year-olds also referenced social norms. In Study 2 (n = 65, 49% girls), 5-year-olds preferred others’ promise-breaking more in prosocial than selfish conditions; 3-year-olds showed the reverse pattern. Three-year-olds’ justifications focused on desires, whereas 5-year-olds focused on relevant events. Overall, 3-year-olds were able to offer justifications, but 5-year-olds started to distinguish what counted in the eyes of others as “good” and “bad” reasons for promise breaking.
... Thus, which components are assembled vary with specific task demands, including motivational context. In the present study, the non-rewarded Stroop task may have elicited assembly of children's knowledge of the images presented on the cards (i.e., sun/moon, mouse/elephant) and desire to play by rules; the rewarded condition may have called upon additional components, including motivation to earn the sticker, affective regulation, and beliefs about whether children would receive the rewards at as promised (Kidd et al., 2013). Importantly, our analyses suggest that the added reward may have invoked additional control strategies, such as slowing response times to boost accuracy; however, the moderating effects of temperament on reward-EF associations also indicate individual differences in the availability of these components. ...
Article
The effects of rewards on executive function (EF) reflect bidirectional interactions among motivational and executive systems that vary with age and temperament. However, methodological limitations hinder understanding of the precise influences of incentives on early EF, including the role of reward sensitivity. In this within‐subjects study, ninety‐three 3.5‐ to 5‐year‐olds (42 girls; 22% Hispanic; 78% White) residing in the United States completed equivalent EF measures (Stroop and non‐Stroop phases) in both rewarded and non‐rewarded conditions. Rewards enhanced Stroop accuracy and slowed overall response times (ds = 0.29–0.40). Critically, children with low parent‐reported reward sensitivity exhibited greater reward‐based increases in Stroop accuracy (r = −.30). These findings provide valuable insights on early motivation–cognition integration, highlighting temperament as a mechanism underlying these interactions.
Article
The article shows that experimental studies that aim to examine principles of distributive justice in children can be read from their relationship with the demographic variable gender. By making this critical reading from a thematic review, it is possible to observe that the studies, in general terms, show findings in three directions: no gender differences; non-significant differences; and significant differences. These results, however, are directly related both to participants’ age and methodological specificities of the experimentation. In order to account for these aspects, the text is divided into three parts: first-person studies, third-person work, and cultural comparisons.
Article
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To examine the impact of environmental uncertainty on individuals’ intertemporal choices and the moderating effect of implicit personality theory, two studies were conducted. Study 1 investigated the moderating role of implicit personality theory in the influence of environmental uncertainty on intertemporal choice using questionnaires. Study 2 examined whether priming incremental personality theory could change entity theorists’ intertemporal preference in an uncertain environment. The results showed that implicit personality theory plays a moderating role in the influence of environmental uncertainty on intertemporal choice. For entity theorists, the delay discounting rate was positively correlated with environmental uncertainty. In contrast, for incremental theorists, the delay discounting rate was not significantly correlated with environmental uncertainty. After priming incremental personality theory, entity theorists’ delay discounting decreased significantly. Thus, we conclude that incremental personality theory buffers the effect of environmental uncertainty on intertemporal choice.
Article
While developmental researchers take great care to report on the characteristics of their participants, they rarely report on the characteristics of their experimenter(s). This is surprising, given the real potential for experimenter identity (e.g., gender, race, age, etc.), especially as it relates to children’s identities, to influence children’s behavior in experiments. In the current study, we investigate how experimenter identity (as signaled by language and race cues) influences 3- to 5-year-old children’s (N = 159) behavior in the famous marshmallow task. Results show that experimenter identity indeed influenced children’s wait times in the marshmallow task; specifically, we found that racial mismatch between experimenter and child led to longer wait times, and in an exploratory analysis, we found that this effect was exaggerated by an additional mismatch in accent. We thus reveal a previously overlooked factor that may influence children’s behavior in a delayed gratification task—experimenter identity—and discuss the important implications of these findings for developmental research more broadly.
Chapter
Auf Basis des Verständnisses um die Motivation, die in Kap. 4 erarbeitet wurde, werden nun Möglichkeiten erörtert, in die Motivation einzugreifen und Handeln zu beeinflussen. Das Kapitel gliedert sich in drei Teile: Zunächst betrachten wir, welche Probleme im Zusammenhang mit der Motivation auftreten, die der Handelnde selbst oder eine Führungskraft beheben möchte. Im zweiten Abschnitt werden die vier Möglichkeiten dargestellt, Motivation für eine Handlung aufzubauen bzw. bei unerwünschtem Verhalten diese zu reduzieren. Im abschließenden Teil geht es darum Motivation zu diagnostizieren, um Verhalten vorhersagen zu können bzw. Informationen zu gewinnen, wie am besten in die Motivation eingegriffen werden könnte.
Book
Mental control refers to the ability to control our own minds. Its primary expression, attention has become a popular topic for philosophers in the past few decades, generating the need for a primer on the concept. It is related to self-control, which typically refers to the maintenance of preferred behavior in the face of temptation. While a distinct concept, criticisms of self-control can also be applied to mental control, such as that it implies the existence of an unscientific homunculus-like agent or is not a natural kind. Yet, as this Element suggests, a scientifically-grounded account of mental control remains possible. The Element is organized into five main sections, which cover the concept of mental control, the relationship between mental control and attention, the phenomena of meditation and mind-wandering, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and emergence-based accounts of mental control, including an original account by the author.
Article
Self-control plays an essential role in children’s emotional and behavioral adjustment. A central behavioral indicator of self-control is the ability to delay gratification. Few studies have focused on understanding the heterogeneity of self-control behaviors that underlie children’s ability to delay gratification. Therefore, we examined the role of spontaneous self-control behaviors (fidgeting, vocalizations, and anticipation/attentional focus toward a reward) in relation to 5-year old children’s delay ability using Mischel’s delay task (N = 144; Mage = 5.4 years, SD = 0.29). Latent mixture modeling was used to derive three distinct classes of self-control behaviors observed during the delay task: (1) Passive (low fidgeting, low vocalizations, but moderate anticipation), (2) Active (moderate fidgeting, moderate vocalizations, but high anticipation), and (3) Disruptive (high fidgeting, high vocalizations, and high anticipation). Children in the Passive class were more likely to delay the full task time compared with children in the Active class (odds ratio = 1.50, 95 % confidence interval = 1.28–1.81). There were no other differences in delay ability by self-control class. Children whose level of fidgeting and vocalizations matched their level of anticipation (i.e., Passive and Disruptive regulators) were able to delay more successfully than children who were mostly driven by anticipation (Active regulators). Some variation in children’s delay ability and use of self-control strategies was explained by sociodemographic differences, specifically maternal age. Findings suggest probing processes underlying children’s self-control to identify potential targets for intervention.
Conference Paper
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Περίληψη Η Παιδεία του Πολίτη αναγνωρίζεται ως παιδαγωγική μάθησης που αναπτύσσεται παράλληλα με το αναλυτικό πρόγραμμα και στοχεύει στην καλλιέργεια ενεργών και δημοκρατικών πολιτών στην πα- γκόσμια κοινωνία. Η αξία τέτοιων παιδαγωγικών πρακτικών έχει τονιστεί ιδιαίτερα την τελευταία δε- καετία από πλήθος διεθνών οργανισμών. Παρόλο που σχετικές πρακτικές μάθησης έχουν εφαρμοστεί εκτεταμένα σε εκπαιδευτικές μονάδες σε όλο τον κόσμο, δεν έχει υπάρξει εκτενής μελέτη σχετικά με το ελληνικό σχολείο. Σκοπός της παρούσας μελέτης είναι να αναδείξει τις εκπαιδευτικές πρακτικές Παιδείας του Πολίτη καθώς και τις προεκτάσεις που μπορεί να έχουν για την ενσωμάτωση της παιδα- γωγικής αυτής στο ελληνικό δημοτικό σχολείο. Η συγκεκριμένη έρευνα χρησιμοποιεί τη μεθοδολογία της έρευνας δράσης και κατά κύριο λόγο ποιοτικά εργαλεία συλλογής δεδομένων και εστιάζει στις πρακτικές διδασκαλίας που χρησιμοποιήθηκαν από τους εκπαιδευτικούς. Τα αποτελέσματά της αναδεικνύουν τις προκλήσεις και τις ευκαιρίες εφαρμογής της Παιδείας του Πολίτη στο αναλυτικό πρόγραμμα και της επαγγελματικής εξέλιξης των εκπαιδευτικών. Abstract Global citizenship education is recognised as a pedagogical approach used alongside the curricu- lum application, aiming to cultivate active and democratic citizens within our global societies. The importance of promoting a global agenda in education has been highlighted by many international organisations. Although many countries have been working towards mainstreaming this approach in formal education there has not been substantial research evidence coming from the context of Greece. Hence, this study aims to explore how Global Citizenship Education practices can be incorporated within the context of one Greek primary school. This study adopts an action research methodology and predominantly uses qualitative methods. The findings present the challenges and the opportunities of incorporating Global Citizenship education in one Greek primary school. Furthermore, it reveals the teaching and learning practices that were implemented by the teach- ers, as well as opportunities for their professional development.
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This study examines the relationship between emotional self-efficacy and impulsivity among a sample of adolescents. To achieve the study objectives, The descriptive and relational survey method was used, Emotional Self-Efficacy Scale consisting of (27) items and Impulsivity Scale consisting of (22) items were employed after validity and reliability of the two scales were verified. The two scales were administrated to a convenient sample totaling (247) adolescents. The results of the study showed that emotional self-efficacy level among adolescents was moderate as all domains were moderate and were as follows: Managing other emotions, understanding other emotions, self-emotions management, self-emotion understanding, respectively. Three domains of impulsivity scale were low, which were: lack of persistence, positive insistence, seeking for adventure, respectively, while two domains (Negative insistence, premeditation) were very low. The results showed that there were no statistically significant differences at (α = 0.05) between the estimates of a sample of adolescent students on the dimensions of impulsivity, as well as between their estimates on the dimensions of emotional self-efficacy and on them collectively due to gender, and a statistically significant negative correlation relationship at (α = 0.01) between Emotionality self-efficacy and the dimension of impulsivity (Negative insistence, premeditation).
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Good self-control is a crucial factor in the distribution of life outcomes, ranging from success at school and work, to good mental and physical health, and to satisfying romantic relationships. While in the last decades psychologists have learned much about this all-important trait, both social theory and politics have not caught up. Many academics and policymakers still seem to believe that everybody has unlimited capacity for self-control and that maintaining discipline is purely a matter of volition. This book shows that such beliefs are fundamentally mistaken. It presents the state-of-the-art in research on self-control, explains why this trait has been largely overlooked, and sets out the profound implications of this psychological research for moral responsibility, distributive justice and public policy. It shows that the growing emphasis in politics on 'personal responsibility' is deeply problematic, and outlines alternatives more in accord with human psychology.
Chapter
Corporate frauds and scandals are not new; what is new is the attempt to explain them and responses to mitigate or eliminate them. Responses have included external stimuli such as tighter regulations or calls to incorporate ethics into the practices of business, and internal responses such as corporate social responsibility. However, greed is a human trait and self-interest has been a dominant paradigm in the corporate world since long. We argue that this paradigm is unsustainable and offer an alternative perspective—a dharmic perspective—that is rooted in the Hindu philosophy and focuses attention on the importance of sustainability.
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Child genotype is an important biologically based individual difference conferring differential sensitivity to the effect of parental behavior. This study explored dopaminergic polygenic composite × parental behavior interactions in relation to young children’s executive function. Participants were 135 36-month-old children and their mothers drawn from a prospective cohort followed longitudinally from pregnancy. A polygenic composite was created based on the number of COMT, DAT1 , DRD2 , and DRD4 alleles associated with increased reward sensitivity children carried. Maternal negative reactivity and responsiveness were coded during a series of structured mother–child interactions. Executive function was operationalized as self-control and working memory/inhibitory control. Path analysis supported a polygenic composite by negative reactivity interaction for self-control. The nature of the interaction was one of diathesis-stress, such that higher negative reactivity was associated with poorer self-control for children with higher polygenic composite scores. This result suggests that children with a higher number of alleles may be more vulnerable to the negative effect of negative reactivity. Negative reactivity may increase the risk for developing behavior problems in this population via an association with poorer self-control. Due to the small sample size, these initial findings should be treated with caution until they are replicated in a larger independent sample.
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Research Findings: Although work across developmental and educational psychology reveals that trust impacts children’s acceptance of claims and that teacher-student relationships impact learning outcomes, little work has integrated these literatures to better understand how students’ trust in their teacher facilitates learning. In the present work, we conceptualize and measure two distinct types of trust – epistemic trust and interpersonal trust – in order to better understand trust and learning in the classroom. Study 1 (N = 63 3- and 4-year-olds) manipulated the behavior of an adult teacher in order to test for predicted differences in children’s epistemic and interpersonal trust in the teacher. Study 2 (N = 43 3- to 5-year-olds) extended these findings beyond the laboratory by examining children’s trust in their lead classroom teacher at a university-based preschool. We found evidence for distinguishing between epistemic and interpersonal trust but did not discover associations between trust and learning. Taken together, these studies offer new insights for exploring children’s trust in applied contexts. Practice or Policy: Our approach highlights the importance of measuring distinct dimensions of trust from the students’ perspective and has implications for educational practices related to trust-building.
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Human prosociality is a valuable but also deeply puzzling trait. While several studies suggest that prosociality is an instinctive and impulsive behavior, others argue that patience and self-control are necessary to develop prosocial behaviors. Yet, prosociality and patience in children have rarely been studied jointly. Here, we measured patience (i.e. delay-of-grati cation) and prosociality (i.e. giving in a dictator game to a known or unknown partner) in 250 4-to 6-year-old French schoolchildren. We found that sharing with an unknown partner was negatively linked to patience in children but observed no relationship between patience and sharing with a familiar partner. Taken together, our results support the hypothesis that children are intuitively prosocial independent of strategic concerns and that patience is therefore not necessary to act prosocially during early childhood. Future studies investigating whether and why prosociality show a non-linear developmental trajectory across the lifespan are warranted.
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Success in life is linked to executive functions, a collection of cognitive processes that support goal-directed behaviors. Executive functions is an umbrella term related to cognitive control, self-control, and more. Variations in executive functioning predict concurrent success in schooling, relationships, and behavior, as well as important life outcomes years later. Such findings may suggest that certain individuals are destined for good executive functioning and success. However, environmental influences on executive function and development have long been recognized. Recent research in this tradition demonstrates the power of social contextual influences on children's engagement of executive functions. Such findings suggest new interpretations of why individuals differ in executive functioning and associated life outcomes, including across cultures and socioeconomic statuses. These findings raise fundamental questions about how best to conceptualize, measure, and support executive functioning across diverse contexts. Future research addressing real-world dynamics and computational mechanisms will elucidate how executive functioning emerges in the world. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Developmental Psychology, Volume 3 is December 2021. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
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The authors in this chapter focus on a case study of how object representations in infants interact with early word learning, particularly the nature of the so-called 'shape bias'. A short review of the controversies in this subfield is used to illustrate the two dominant views of cognitive development, which can be roughly classified as nativist or empiricist. Also presented are theoretical arguments and new empirical evidence for a rational constructivist view of cognitive development. The authors' goal in this chapter is to argue for a new approach to the study of cognitive development, one that is strongly committed to both innate concepts and representations, as well as powerful inductive learning mechanisms. In addition to discussing the 'shape bias' and how it relates to object representations, generality of the approach is briefly discussed.
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Babies may opt for a simpler way to turn on a light after watching an adult do it. Here we show that if an adult demonstrates a new way to execute a task to a group of infants aged 14 months, the children will use this action to achieve the same goal only if they consider it to be the most rational alternative. Our results indicate that imitation of goal-directed action by preverbal infants is a selective, interpretative process, rather than a simple re-enactment of the means used by a demonstrator, as was previously thought1, 2, 3.
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It was argued that the basic principles of operation of human memory can be understood as an optimization to the information-retrieval task that human memory faces. Basically, memory is using the statistics derived from past experience to predict what memories are currently relevant. It was shown that the effects of frequency, recency, and spacing of practice can be predicted from the statistical properties of information use. The effects of memory prompts, cues, and primes can be predicted on the assumption that memory is estimating which knowledge will be needed from past statistics about interitem associations. This analysis was extended to account for fan effects. Memory strategies were analyzed as external to the process of statistical optimization. Memory strategies are attempts to manipulate the statistics of information presentation to influence the optimal solution derived from memory. The classic buffer-rehearsal model for free recall is analyzed as a strategy to manipulate the statistics of information presentation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Human infants, like immature members of any species, must be highly selective in sampling information from their environment to learn efficiently. Failure to be selective would waste precious computational resources on material that is already known (too simple) or unknowable (too complex). In two experiments with 7- and 8-month-olds, we measure infants' visual attention to sequences of events varying in complexity, as determined by an ideal learner model. Infants' probability of looking away was greatest on stimulus items whose complexity (negative log probability) according to the model was either very low or very high. These results suggest a principle of infant attention that may have broad applicability: infants implicitly seek to maintain intermediate rates of information absorption and avoid wasting cognitive resources on overly simple or overly complex events.
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Sixteen-month-old infants (N = 83) rationally used sparse data about the distribution of outcomes among agents and objects to solve a fundamental inference problem: deciding whether event outcomes are due to themselves or the world. When infants experienced failed outcomes, their causal attributions affected whether they sought help or explored.
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Many organisms can predict future events from the statistics of past experience, but humans also excel at making predictions by pure reasoning: integrating multiple sources of information, guided by abstract knowledge, to form rational expectations about novel situations, never directly experienced. Here, we show that this reasoning is surprisingly rich, powerful, and coherent even in preverbal infants. When 12-month-old infants view complex displays of multiple moving objects, they form time-varying expectations about future events that are a systematic and rational function of several stimulus variables. Infants' looking times are consistent with a Bayesian ideal observer embodying abstract principles of object motion. The model explains infants' statistical expectations and classic qualitative findings about object cognition in younger babies, not originally viewed as probabilistic inferences.
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Recent findings from developmental neuroscience suggest that the adolescent brain is too immature to exert control over impulsive drives, such as sensation seeking, that increase during adolescence. Using a discounting of delayed reward paradigm, this research examines the ability to delay gratification as a potential source of control over risk-taking tendencies that increase during adolescence. In addition, it explores the role of experience resulting from risk taking as well as future time perspective as contributors to the development of this ability. In a nationally representative sample (n = 900) of young people aged 14-22, a structural equation analysis shows that risk taking as assessed by use of three popular drugs (tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol) is inversely related to the ability to delay gratification. The relation is robust across gender, age, and different levels of sensation seeking. In addition, high sensation seekers exhibit dramatic age-related increase in delay of gratification, lending support to the hypothesis that engaging in risky behavior provides experience that leads to greater patience for long-term rewards. The findings support the conclusion that a complete understanding of the development of self-control must consider individual differences not easily explained by universal trends in brain maturation.
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To function effectively, individuals must voluntarily postpone immediate gratification and persist in goal-directed behavior for the sake of later outcomes. The present research program analyzed the nature of this type of future-oriented self-control and the psychological processes that underlie it. Enduring individual differences in self-control were found as early as the preschool years. Those 4-year-old children who delayed gratification longer in certain laboratory situations developed into more cognitively and socially competent adolescents, achieving higher scholastic performance and coping better with frustration and stress. Experiments in the same research program also identified specific cognitive and attentional processes that allow effective self-regulation early in the course of development. The experimental results, in turn, specified the particular types of preschool delay situations diagnostic for predicting aspects of cognitive and social competence later in life.
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Several existing unconditional methods for setting confidence intervals for the difference between binomial proportions are evaluated. Computationally simpler methods are prone to a variety of aberrations and poor coverage properties. The closely interrelated methods of Mee and Miettinen and Nurminen perform well but require a computer program. Two new approaches which also avoid aberrations are developed and evaluated. A tail area profile likelihood based method produces the best coverage properties, but is difficult to calculate for large denominators. A method combining Wilson score intervals for the two proportions to be compared also performs well, and is readily implemented irrespective of sample size.
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People high in rejection sensitivity (RS) anxiously expect rejection and are at risk for interpersonal and personal distress. Two studies examined the role of self-regulation through strategic attention deployment in moderating the link between RS and maladaptive outcomes. Self-regulation was assessed by the delay of gratification (DG) paradigm in childhood. In Study 1, preschoolers from the Stanford University community who participated in the DG paradigm were assessed 20 years later. Study 2 assessed low-income, minority middle school children on comparable measures. DG ability buffered high-RS people from interpersonal difficulties (aggression, peer rejection) and diminished well-being (e.g., low self-worth, higher drug use). The protective effect of DG ability on high-RS children's self-worth is explained by reduced interpersonal problems. Attentional mechanisms underlying the interaction between RS and strategic self-regulation are discussed.
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Here we show that if an adult demonstrates a new way to execute a task to a group of infants aged 14 months, the children will use this action to achieve the same goal only if they consider it to be the most rational alternative. Our results indicate that imitation of goal-directed action by preverbal infants is a selective, interpretative process, rather than a simple re-enactment of the means used by a demonstrator, as was previously thought.
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The authors outline a cognitive and computational account of causal learning in children. They propose that children use specialized cognitive systems that allow them to recover an accurate "causal map" of the world: an abstract, coherent, learned representation of the causal relations among events. This kind of knowledge can be perspicuously understood in terms of the formalism of directed graphical causal models, or Bayes nets. Children's causal learning and inference may involve computations similar to those for learning causal Bayes nets and for predicting with them. Experimental results suggest that 2- to 4-year-old children construct new causal maps and that their learning is consistent with the Bayes net formalism.
Article
Several existing unconditional methods for setting confidence intervals for the difference between binomial proportions are evaluated. Computationally simpler methods are prone to a variety of aberrations and poor coverage properties. The closely interrelated methods of Mee and Miettinen and Nurminen perform well but require a computer program. Two new approaches which also avoid aberrations are developed and evaluated. A tail area profile likelihood based method produces the best coverage properties, but is difficult to calculate for large denominators. A method combining Wilson score intervals for the two proportions to be compared also performs well, and is readily implemented irrespective of sample size. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Book
How do people decide whether to sacrifice now for a future reward or to enjoy themselves in the present? Do the future gains of putting money in a pension fund outweigh going to Hawaii for New Year's Eve? Why does a person's self-discipline one day often give way to impulsive behavior the next? Time and Decision takes up these questions with a comprehensive collection of new research on intertemporal choice, examining how people face the problem of deciding over time. Economists approach intertemporal choice by means of a model in which people discount the value of future events at a constant rate. A vacation two years from now is worth less to most people than a vacation next week. Psychologists, on the other hand, have focused on the cognitive and emotional underpinnings of intertemporal choice. Time and Decision draws from both disciplinary approaches to provide a comprehensive picture of the various layers of choice involved. Shane Frederick, George Loewenstein, and Ted O'Donoghue introduce the volume with an overview of the research on time discounting and focus on how people actually discount the future compared to the standard economic model. Alex Kacelnik discusses the crucial role that the ability to delay gratification must have played in evolution. Walter Mischel and colleagues review classic research showing that four year olds who are able to delay gratification subsequently grow up to perform better in college than their counterparts who chose instant gratification. The book also delves into the neurobiology of patience, examining the brain structures involved in the ability to withstand an impulse. Turning to the issue of self-control, Klaus Wertenbroch examines the relationship between consumption and available resources, showing, for example, how a high credit limit can lead people to overspend. Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin show how people's awareness of their self-control problems affects their decision-making. The final section of the book examines intertemporal choice with regard to health, drug addiction, dieting, marketing, savings, and public policy. All of us make important decisions every day-many of which profoundly affect the quality of our lives. Time and Decision provides a fascinating look at the complex factors involved in how and why we make our choices, so many of them short-sighted, and helps us understand more precisely this crucial human frailty.
Chapter
This chapter provides an overview of research on choice preferences for delayed, larger versus immediate, smaller gratifications. In spite of the widespread recognition of the important role of delay of gratification in human affairs, previous experimental research on the topic has been limited. At the empirical level, extensive experimental work has been done on delay of reward in animals. Surprisingly, although voluntary delay behavior has been assumed to be a critical component of such concepts as “ego strength,” “impulse control,” and “internalization,” prior to the present research program relatively little systematic attention had been devoted to it in empirical work on human social behavior. The chapter presents, in greater detail, selected studies that focus on the role of cognitive processes during self-imposed delay. Many theorists have paid tribute abstractly to the importance of cognition for the phenomena of personality in general and for self-regulatory processes in particular. These tributes have been accompanied by some correlational research that explores, for example, the links between intelligence, self-control, cognitive styles, and other dispositional. The chapter offers a further theoretical analysis of the determinants of delay behavior.
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This study uses a representative general population sample of 699 adolescents and their families to examine the effects of paren ting practices, particularly support and control, on the development of adolescent drinking, delinquency, and other problem behaviors. Black families were oversampled (n = 211) to permit meaningful analyses. The findings confirm that parental support and monitoring are important predictors of adolescent outcomes even after taking into account critical demographic/family factors, including socioeconomic indicators, age, gender, and race of the adolescent, family structure, and family history of alcohol abuse. In addition, peer orientation remains a significant predictor of drinking behavior and deviance and interacts with aspects of parenting. Methodological issues associated with sampling, family respondent, and measurement of support and control are critiqued as they pertain to parental socialization and adolescent outcome research.
Book
Developmental and child psychology remains a vital area in modern psychology. This comprehensive set covers a broad spectrum of developmenal issues, from the psychology of the infant, the family, abilities and disabilities, children's art, imagination, play, speech, mental development, perception, intelligence, mental health and education. In looking at areas which continue to be very important today, these volumes provide a fascinating look at how approaches and attitudes to children have changed over the years. The set includes nine volumes by key development psychologist Jean Piaget, as well as titles by Charlotte Buhler and Susan Isaacs.
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Describes 3 experiments with a total of 92 3-5 yr. olds. Exp. I compared the effects of external and cognitive distraction from reward objects on the length of time which Ss waited for a preferred delayed reward before forfeiting it for a less preferred immediate one. In accord with predictions from an extension of frustrative nonreward theory, Ss waited much longer for a preferred reward when they were distracted from the rewards. Exp. II 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 Exp. III the delayed rewards were not physically available for direct attention during the delay period, and Ss' cognitive attention was manipulated by prior instructions. While Ss waited, cognitions about the rewards significantly reduced, rather than enhanced, the length of their delay of gratification. Overall, attentional and cognitive mechanisms which enhanced the salience of rewards shortened the length of voluntary delay, while distractions from the rewards, overtly or cognitively, facilitated delay. Results permit a reinterpretation of basic mechanisms in voluntary delay of gratification and self-control. (16 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Explored the role of attentional processes in voluntary delay of reward by manipulating children's attention to the rewards for which they were waiting in a delay-of-gratification paradigm. 32 preschool children waited for a preferred but delayed reward while facing either the delayed reward, a less preferred but immediately available reward, both rewards, or no rewards. The dependent measure was the amount of time they waited for the preferred outcome before forfeiting it for the sake of the less desired but immediately available one. Results contradict predictions from psychodynamic theory and from speculations concerning self-instructions during time binding. Unexpectedly, but in accord with frustrative nonreward theory, voluntary waiting time was substantially increased when Ss could not attend to rewards during the waiting period. Implications are discussed for a theory of the development of delay of gratification. (22 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
In "Losing Control," the authors provide a single reference source with comprehensive information on general patterns of self-regulation failure across contexts, research findings on specific self-control disorders, and commentary on the clinical and social aspects of self-regulation failure. Self-control is discussed in relation to what the "self" is, and the cognitive, motivational, and emotional factors that impinge on one's ability to control one's "self." (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The present study adds to the gradually increasing number of investigations on the effect of the degree of presence of father in the familial configuration and personality functioning. In this study, capacity to choose a larger but temporally remote gratification as opposed to a lesser immediate one was investigated in 2 West Indian (Trinidad) Negro subcultures characterized by the general absence of father. Ss were of 2 age groups (8-9 and 11-14). The hypothesis that father absence would be related to preference for immediate gratification was found in the younger, but not the older group. Results are discussed in comparison to other research in this area. From Psyc Abstracts 36:04:4FG16M. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This study investigated the effects of situational and generalized expectancies for success on choices of immediate, less valuable, noncontingent rewards as opposed to more valuable contingent rewards. Measures of generalized expectancy for success were administered to 8th-grade boys who later worked on a series of problems and obtained either success, failure, or no information for performance. Thereafter, each S chose between less valuable, noncontingent rewards and more valuable rewards whose attainment was contingent on successful solutions of problems varying in their similarity-dissimilarity to the original problems and/or an additional delay period. As predicted, contingent rewards were chosen more after success than failure and Ss discriminated between specific contingencies. The effects of situational success and failure tended to minimize the effects of generalized expectancies. Moreover, in the no-information condition children with high generalized expectancies for success chose more contingent rewards than those with low expectancies and behaved like Ss in the success condition. Children with low generalized expectancies who received no information about their performance behaved like those with similarly low generalized expectancies who had obtained failure. Following failure, generalized expectancies for success affected willingness to wait for larger rewards even when their attainment was independent of performance. (19 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
A meta-analysis of the A-not-B error was conducted using logistic regression on studies conducted before September 1997 (107 data points). An earlier meta-analysis by Wellman, Cross, and Bartsch revealed that age, delay between hiding and retrieval, and number of hiding locations were significant predictors of both the proportion of infants who searched correctly on B trials and the proportion of infants who searched perseveratively. The current analysis replicated these findings with two exceptions: (1) The number of trials at the A location was a significant predictor, and (2) the number of locations was a significant predictor of the proportion of infants who searched perseveratively, but not the proportion of infants who searched correctly. Implications of these findings are discussed and a quantitative version of a hierarchical competing-systems model of infant search is proposed.
Article
A central question in intertemporal decision making is why people reverse their own past choices. Someone who initially prefers a long-run outcome might fail to maintain that preference for long enough to see the outcome realized. Such behavior is usually understood as reflecting preference instability or self-control failure. However, if a decision maker is unsure exactly how long an awaited outcome will be delayed, a reversal can constitute the rational, utility-maximizing course of action. In the present behavioral experiments, we placed participants in timing environments where persistence toward delayed rewards was either productive or counterproductive. Our results show that human decision makers are responsive to statistical timing cues, modulating their level of persistence according to the distribution of delay durations they encounter. We conclude that temporal expectations act as a powerful and adaptive influence on people's tendency to sustain patient decisions.
Article
In acquiring number words, children exhibit a qualitative leap in which they transition from understanding a few number words, to possessing a rich system of interrelated numerical concepts. We present a computational framework for understanding this inductive leap as the consequence of statistical inference over a sufficiently powerful representational system. We provide an implemented model that is powerful enough to learn number word meanings and other related conceptual systems from naturalistic data. The model shows that bootstrapping can be made computationally and philosophically well-founded as a theory of number learning. Our approach demonstrates how learners may combine core cognitive operations to build sophisticated representations during the course of development, and how this process explains observed developmental patterns in number word learning.
Article
The tendency of animals to seek instant gratification instead of waiting for greater long-term benefits has been described as impatient, impulsive or lacking in self-control. How can we explain the evolution of such seemingly irrational behaviour? Here we analyse optimal behaviour in a variety of simple choice situations involving delayed rewards. We show that preferences for more immediate rewards should depend on a variety of factors, including whether the choice is a one-off or is likely to be repeated, the information the animal has about the continuing availability of the rewards and the opportunity to gain rewards through alternative activities. In contrast to the common assertion that rational animals should devalue delayed rewards exponentially, we find that this pattern of discounting is optimal only under restricted circumstances. We predict preference reversal whenever waiting for delayed rewards entails loss of opportunities elsewhere, but the direction of this reversal depends on whether the animal will face the same choice repeatedly. Finally, we question the ecological relevance of standard laboratory tests for impulsive behaviour, arguing that animals rarely face situations analogous to the self-control paradigm in their natural environment. To understand the evolution of impulsiveness, a more promising strategy would be to identify decision rules that are adaptive in a realistic ecological setting, and examine how these rules determine patterns of behaviour in simultaneous choice tests.
Article
Previous research has revealed that infants can reason correctly about single-event probabilities with small but not large set sizes (Bonatti, 2008; Teglas et al., 2007). The current study asks whether infants can make predictions regarding single-event probability with large set sizes using a novel procedure. Infants completed two trials: A preference trial to determine whether they preferred pink or black lollipops and a test trial where infants saw two jars, one containing mostly pink lollipops and another containing mostly black lollipops. The experimenter removed one occluded lollipop from each jar and placed them in two separate opaque cups. Seventy-eight percent of infants searched in the cup that contained a lollipop from the jar with a higher proportion of their preferred color object, significantly better than chance. Thus infants can reason about single-event probabilities with large set sizes in a choice paradigm, and contrary to most findings in the infant literature, the prediction task used here appears a more sensitive measure than the standard looking-time task.
Article
Delay of gratification, assessed in a series of experiments when the subjects were in preschool, was related to parental personality ratings obtained a decade later for 95 of these children in adolescence. Clear and consistent patterns of correlations between self-imposed delay time in preschool and later ratings were found for both sexes over this time span. Delay behavior predicted a set of cognitive and social competencies and stress tolerance consistent with experimental analyses of the process underlying effective delay in the preschool delay situation. Specifically, children who were able to wait longer at age 4 or 5 became adolescents whose parents rated them as more academically and socially competent, verbally fluent, rational, attentive, planful, and able to deal well with frustration and stress. Comparisons with related longitudinal research using other delay situations help to clarify the important features of the situations and person variables involved in different aspects of delay of gratification.
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To determine whether signs of disordered attachment were greater in young children being reared in more socially depriving caregiving environments. Three groups of children were studied by means of structured interviews with caregivers that were administered over several months in Bucharest, Romania, in 1999: (1) 32 toddlers living in a typical unit (standard care) in a large institution in Bucharest; (2) 29 toddlers living in the same institution on a 'pilot unit" designed to reduce the number of adults caring for each child; and (3) 33 toddlers living at home who had never been institutionalized. The presence of attachment disorders and other behavioral problems was assessed by caregiver/ parent report. Children on the typical unit (standard care) had significantly more signs of disordered attachment than children in the other two groups. Both the emotionally withdrawn and the indiscriminately social pattern of attachment disorder were apparent in these children, but cluster analysis suggested that mixed patterns are more typical. The continuum of caretaking casualty is reflected by increasing signs of disordered attachment in toddlers living in more socially depriving environments.
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"This study introduces Rotter's expectancy construct as an important factor in delayed reinforcement situations. The hypotheses were: (a) other factors being equal, the preference strength for a delayed reward will be low, moderate, or high as the expectancy for the occurrence of the delayed rewards is respectively low, moderate, or high; (b) social agents (i.e., Es) will serve as cues for different levels of expectancy." These hypotheses were supported. 15 references. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
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Using a simple choice measure of preference for delayed reward on elementary school children ranging in age from 5 to 12, and under five different lengths of delay interval, the following hypotheses were tested and confirmed: (a) preference for delayed reward is positively related to age; (b) positively to intelligence; (c) and negatively to length of the delay interval An additional finding was that subjects preferring the immediate reward tend to have more variable future time perspectives and that length of time perspective is slightly related to IQ, but not to age.
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We report a new study testing our proposal that word learning may be best explained as an approximate form of Bayesian inference (Xu & Tenenbaum, in press). Children are capable of learning word meanings across a wide range of communicative contexts. In different contexts, learners may encounter different sampling processes generating the examples of word-object pairings they observe. An ideal Bayesian word learner could take into account these differences in the sampling process and adjust his/her inferences about word meaning accordingly. We tested how children and adults learned words for novel object kinds in two sampling contexts, in which the objects to be labeled were sampled either by a knowledgeable teacher or by the learners themselves. Both adults and children generalized more conservatively in the former context; that is, they restricted the label to just those objects most similar to the labeled examples when the exemplars were chosen by a knowledgeable teacher, but not when chosen by the learners themselves. We discuss how this result follows naturally from a Bayesian analysis, but not from other statistical approaches such as associative word-learning models.
Can adolescents learn self-control? Delay of gratification in the development of control over risk taking
  • D Romer
  • A L Duckworth
  • S Sznitzman
  • S Park
Romer D, Duckworth AL, Sznitzman S, Park S. Can adolescents learn self-control? Delay of gratification in the development of control over risk taking. Prevention Science. 2010; 11(3):319-330. [PubMed: 20306298]