Children’s Ability to Delay Gratification across the Life Span and Financial Outcomes


David Laibson


The role of self-regulatory competencies in young children has been increasingly recognized as important for understanding human development. In particular, delays of gratification, effortful control, and emotion regulation have proven to be major developmental tasks of early childhood and they demonstrated significant predictive power for subsequent development. Children’s ability to delay gratification in this paradigm has important implications for long-term developmental outcomes. Two longitudinal follow-ups to date have shown that the number of seconds that preschoolers were able to delay gratification significantly predicted diverse adaptive social-cognitive outcomes when these preschoolers became adolescents and young adults.
The purpose of the proposed research is to be able to further follow the sample in a third longitudinal study. Most of these participants are now entering into middle adulthood (i.e., around 35 years of age).