ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (2): 303-315.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2015.00303

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Making A Decision vs. Sticking to A Decision: A Comparison of Intertemporal Choice and Delay of Gratification

REN Tian-Hong1; HU Zhi-Shan2; SUN Hong-Yue3; LIU Yang1; LI Shu1   

  1. (1 Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China) (2 Hangzhou Preschool Teachers College, Zhejiang Normal University, Hangzhou 310012, China) (3 College of Education, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai 200235, China)
  • Received:2014-02-14 Online:2015-02-14 Published:2015-02-14
  • Contact: LI Shu, E-mail:


Making and sticking to a decision are two important stages in decision behavior. Intertemporal choice stems from economic research on the process of adults choosing among outcomes at different points in time, whereas delay of gratification comes from psychological research on childhood persistence, in which children had to resist the temptation of the sooner but smaller reward to obtain the later but larger reward. Both studies relate to time and focus on individual impulsiveness and self-control, although from different perspectives. Nonetheless, the two areas are rarely compared systematically. The article addresses this issue and compares their methods as well as their cognitive and neural mechanisms. The article provides scientific theoretical foundations for the collaborative development of both areas to facilitate the practice of foresight.

Key words: intertemporal choice, delay of gratification, choose, persist