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We've all heard the sayings that we would rather have half of a chocolate right now, than a whole chocolate in a month, because we, as wild animals, are constantly seeking for sources. But what's really the evolutionary principle behind this? Is it just that we are better at imagining a near pleasure?

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  • $\begingroup$ somewhat related: there was an advertising campaign by kinder surprise, in which they conducted an "experiment", where children were presented with the surprise egg, and were told, that either they can eat it now, but if they wait for 20 minutes, they'd receive a second egg. The "study" showed that all the kids ate the thing almost immediately after being presented with it - the study concluded that the egg is just to good to wait for eating it $\endgroup$ – Ebbinghaus Oct 7 '16 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ This is in danger of being closed as too broad given that the study of the appeal of delayed vs. immediate gratification, as well as how it varies in between people is a pretty huge field of research. $\endgroup$ – Seanny123 Oct 15 '16 at 16:34
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The evolutionary significance of self-regulation is that humans are more capable of this feat than apes. We can solve problems without visual feedback, by visualization. Apes are good problem solvers, but have difficulties when the task does not offer visual cues, but requires prospective and causal reasoning. This is one of the reasons monkeys fail on delay discounting tasks.

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