Deterministic Beliefs and Delay of Gratification

  • Author:

    Konstanze Albrecht and Nora Szech

  • Date: 2015
  •  The ability to wait for larger, delayed rewards versus taking smaller, instantaneous rewards has high ecological validity and serves as an important predictor of educational and career success in life. Our paper explores whether such intertemporal choice is easily malleable, by priming subjects towards higher beliefs in a deterministic world. It has been discussed that deterministic priming may reduce self-control, which is closely linked to intertemporal choice. The prime we used has been successfully applied in various studies. We elicited beliefs and decisions double-blindly and intertemporal decisions were monetarily incentivized. As expected, we find that priming highly significantly affects beliefs in determinism. Nevertheless, we do not observe any causal changes in decisions to delay gratification. Our data thus suggest that waiting behavior is comparatively difficult to instantaneously manipulate. These findings add to a general understanding of the role of self-control in response to belief manipulation.