Ciarán Canning: “Improving Delay of Gratification in Children: A Role for Episodic Future Thinking?”

In Students by General Account

Delaying gratification involves forgoing an immediately available reward in favour of a larger reward available later. This ability in children has been linked to positive social, academic and health related outcomes in later life. Episodic future thinking involves projecting oneself into the future to pre-experience a personal event. While episodic future thinking has been shown to improve delay of gratification in adults, this effect has not been observed in children. In fact, cuing children to think episodically before making decisions can often reduce their preference for delayed rewards.  My PhD attempts to understand why this is the case. By assessing a range of abilities and characteristics such as future thinking skills, attention, working memory and childrens’ experience of anticipation, we will attempt to understand the mechanisms by which individuals benefit from future thinking cues . This could inform the adaptation of future thinking cues for successful use in children.