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Delay of gratification in old age: assessment, age-related effects, and clinical implications


Drobetz, R; Maercker, Andreas; Forstmeier, Simon (2012). Delay of gratification in old age: assessment, age-related effects, and clinical implications. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 24(1):6-14.

Abstract

Delay of gratification (DoG), the ability to reject immediately available smaller rewards in favor of later larger rewards, has been a topic of continuous research interest for almost 60 years. Although numerous studies have explored this construct and its effects on wellbeing, social behavior, cognitive abilities, and academic success in children, DoG studies in adulthood and old age are scarce. Delay discounting (DD), that is, the degree to which individuals devalue delayed rewards, has instead been used in samples of adults and older individuals and is of particular interest in clinical studies. Findings from DD research suggest that the preference for delayed rewards increases from childhood to early adulthood and decreases from middle age to old age. The main aim of this review is to elucidate the importance of DoG in adulthood and old age. First, the review explores the theoretical status of DoG by specifying the relationships and distinctions between DoG and related constructs. Second, it provides an overview of DoG measurements, from the traditional to the novel. Third, we explore the effects of DoG on development and wellbeing. Fourth, it summarizes age-related differences in DoG. Finally, the review closes with conclusions, clinical implications, and an outlook on possible further research directions.

Abstract

Delay of gratification (DoG), the ability to reject immediately available smaller rewards in favor of later larger rewards, has been a topic of continuous research interest for almost 60 years. Although numerous studies have explored this construct and its effects on wellbeing, social behavior, cognitive abilities, and academic success in children, DoG studies in adulthood and old age are scarce. Delay discounting (DD), that is, the degree to which individuals devalue delayed rewards, has instead been used in samples of adults and older individuals and is of particular interest in clinical studies. Findings from DD research suggest that the preference for delayed rewards increases from childhood to early adulthood and decreases from middle age to old age. The main aim of this review is to elucidate the importance of DoG in adulthood and old age. First, the review explores the theoretical status of DoG by specifying the relationships and distinctions between DoG and related constructs. Second, it provides an overview of DoG measurements, from the traditional to the novel. Third, we explore the effects of DoG on development and wellbeing. Fourth, it summarizes age-related differences in DoG. Finally, the review closes with conclusions, clinical implications, and an outlook on possible further research directions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:01 Feb 2012 11:11
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 11:14
Publisher:Editrice Kurtis
ISSN:1594-0667
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3275/8178
PubMed ID:22170087

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