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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1989 Dec;57(6):1041-50.

The role of ego-control, ego-resiliency, and IQ in delay of gratification in adolescence.

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University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.


The delay-of-gratification behavior of 104 14-year-old Ss (54 girls and 50 boys) was assessed in an experiment in which each subject chose between immediate monetary payment and larger, delayed payment on 5 occasions. Personality data were obtained on these adolescents in the form of California Adult Q-Set ratings made by several research examiners who were blind to the subjects' delay behavior. The number of delayed payments chosen was strongly correlated with these personality ratings, within both sexes. Ss who exhibited the most delay of gratification tended to be independently described as responsible, productive, ethically consistent, interested in intellectual matters, and overly controlled. They tended not to be described as unable to delay gratification, rebellious, unpredictable, self-indulgent, or hostile. Delay behavior in both sexes was also correlated positively with IQ and with Q-sort-derived indexes of ego resiliency and ego control. The relationship between ego control and delay behavior was particularly strong after both IQ and ego resiliency were partialled. These results were interpreted as reflecting the fundamental importance of both cognitive skillfulness and impulse control for adaptive delay behavior in situations that contain strong motivational inducements.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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