Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Delaying gratification for long-run goals in the face of short-run costs and temptations predicts a wide array of important outcomes, including academic achievement, financial stability, and physical health. Therefore, understanding the development of delay of gratification—how it changes within and across children, and the causes and correlates of those changes—carries substantial implications for individuals and societies. This dissertation seeks to investigate the conventional assumption that apparent “failures” to delay gratification reflect limitations in self-control, and to test for a causal role of social trust in driving future-oriented decisions and behaviors. Five studies using a combination of experimental, quasi-experimental, and quantitative modeling methods provide converging evidence that trust influences delay of gratification and may drive the life outcomes associated with willingness to delay. These findings demonstrate that manipulations of social trust influence delaying gratification, and highlight intriguing alternative reasons for individual differences in delaying gratification and associated life outcomes.
Michaelson, Laura Elizabeth, "Causes and Correlates of Apparent Failures to Delay Gratification in Children and Adults" (2017). Psychology and Neuroscience Graduate Theses & Dissertations. 127.