Social Models Influence Children's Delay of Gratification Strategy Use and Delay Performance


Delay of gratification is the ability to forego an immediate indulgence in lieu of a later, greater reward. Past research has shown that using behavioral strategies may help children to delay gratification longer. The current project tests whether children can learn one such strategy, covering the eyes, through imitation. Four-year-olds saw a model delay gratification using a strategy, using no strategy, or saw no model. They then participated in an accumulation task, where they could earn an incremental sticker reward. Children who saw a strategy showed evidence of imitation by covering their eyes. Unexpectedly, however, this had an adverse influence on their ability to delay gratification. Thus, although children can apply a strategy, its effectiveness may be limited by the type of task used (accumulation) or from an incomplete understanding of the strategy’s function. Additional research is needed to investigate whether delay performance can be promoted by a social example. INDEX WORDS: Delay of gratification, Imitation, Strategy, Modeling, Social influence, Accumulation task SOCIAL MODELS INFLUENCE CHILDREN’S DELAY OF GRATIFICATION STRATEGY USE AND DELAY PERFORMANCE

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@inproceedings{Hrabic2015SocialMI, title={Social Models Influence Children's Delay of Gratification Strategy Use and Delay Performance}, author={Melissa Hrabic and Rebecca Williamson and Lauren B. Adamson and Michael Beran and Christopher Conway}, year={2015} }