The Huron University College Journal of Learning and Motivation


Previous research on delay of gratification indicates that people have a tendency to choose small rewards that are available immediately over more valuable rewards that are available after a certain amount of time. This ability to wait for the more valuable reward has been associated with a variety of positive outcomes, such as better self-regulation abilities, academic success, and reduced risk of addiction. One theory evoked to explain the inability to delay gratification states that an emotional, impulsive “hot” system overrides a rational, cognitive “cool” system and influences the person to act impulsively and choose the small immediate reward. Various factors affecting how the desired reward is presented can differentially activate the cool system to a greater extent that the hot system. The role of affect in this decision-making process is unclear as a result of contradicting evidence. The present study, using a between-subjects design, used a modification of the Velten mood statements to induce positive and negative affect, and attempted to activate the cool system to a greater extent than the hot system by presenting the choice in an impersonal manner. There were no significant differences between the different conditions. Methodological flaws of the study are discussed.

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