Gratitude: A Tool for Reducing Economic Impatience
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CitationDeSteno, D., Y. Li, L. Dickens, and J. S. Lerner. 2014. “Gratitude: A Tool for Reducing Economic Impatience.” Psychological Science (April 23).
AbstractThe human mind tends to excessively discount the value of delayed rewards relative to immediate ones, with “hot” affective processes believed to drive desires for short-term gratification. Supporting this view, recent findings demonstrate that sadness exacerbates financial impatience even when the sadness is unrelated to the economic decision at hand (Lerner, Li, & Weber, 2012). Such findings might reinforce the view that emotions must always be suppressed to combat impatience. But if emotions serve adaptive functions, then certain emotions might be capable of reducing excessive impatience for delayed rewards. We find evidence supporting this alternative view. Specifically, we find that (1) the emotion gratitude reduces impatience even with real money at stake, and (2) the effects of gratitude are differentiable from those of the more general positive state of happiness. These findings challenge the view that individuals must tamp down affective responses through effortful self-regulation to reach more patient and adaptive economic decisions.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:12185844
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