Waiting may make us more patient
While we live in a culture of instant gratification, waiting can actually make us more patient and help us make better decisions about our financial future, according to a new study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
For the study, University of Chicago researchers conducted a series of experiments in the U.S., mainland China and Hong Kong. For one experiment, they asked participants to sign up to join a subject pool for online studies. In exchange for signing up, participants were invited to enter one of two lotteries; one would pay a $50 prize sooner, the other would pay a $55 prize later. Participants were also divided into three groups, and each had a different wait time before given their potential prize. The first group was told they could win $50 in three days or $55 in 23 days. The second group was told they could win $50 in 30 days or $55 in 50 days. The third group was also told they could win $50 in 30 days or $55 in 50 days, but they also had to wait to choose their potential reward.
Researchers contacted members of the third group 27 days later to ask for their decision, which like the first group, would be between waiting three days or 23 days to receive their prize.
They found that in the first group only 31 percent of participants chose to wait for the larger reward, and in the second group, 56 percent of participants chose to wait. In the third group, in which participants had to wait several weeks to make their decision, 86 percent chose to wait for the larger reward. Even though they were making the exact same choice as the people in the first group, waiting to choose increased their patience and they made a better financial decision.
Researchers say that when people wait, it makes them place a higher value on what they are waiting for, which makes them more patient.