The effect of internal and external distractors on self-imposed delay of gratification
The purpose of this study was to determine under which of several conditions preschool children would delay gratification longer given the choice between a smaller immediate, and a larger delayed reward in a non-instrumental paradigm.Prior to the experiment 70 subjects from a pool of 81 subjects were randomly assigned to 8 treatment groups with 4 males and 3 females in each group. When a subject was eliminated from the study another subject of the same sex was randomly selected from the remaining pool of subjects and assigned to the treatment condition. In all 31 males and 24 females completed the experiment. -Four experimenters, 2 male and 2 female, were randomly assigned to subjects such that experimenter sex, subject sex, and experimental condition were distributed evenly across cells.In each group the preschool child could obtain a less preferred reward immediately or wait for-a a more preferred reward. 1ne eight treatment groups varied subject sex, nature of the distractor, degree of distraction, and presence of reward. Reward presence was varied by either leaving the rewards on a table in front of the subject during the waiting period or covering the rewards and placing them under the table. Nature of distractor, internal or external, was varied by leaving the subject to his own thought distractions (internal), or by making paper and crayons available to the subject during the waiting period (external). Degree of distraction, structured or non-structured, was varied by the experimenter informing the subject of pleasant activities to engage in during the waiting period (structured) or by the experimenter refraining from making suggestions for activities (non-structured).The data were subjected to a univariate analysis of variance. The F value which was obtained for subject sex was Statistically significant at the .01 level with female subect3 waiting longer than male subjects. The first null h7-pothesis that there would be no statistically significant differences between males and females was, therefore, rejected. The F values for the other three null hypotheses: there will be'no statistically significant difference between those subjects waiting under the conditions of external distractor and those subjects waiting under the condition of internal distractor; there will be no statistically significant difference between those subjects waiting under the condition of a positive structured task and those waiting under the condition of a neutral unstructured task; and there will be no statistically significant difference between those subjects waiting under the condition of reward present and those subjects waiting under the condition of reward absent failed to be significant at the .05 level of confidence.Because three of the four major null hypotheses failed to be rejected and because the study was a partial replication, the data were further subjected to a series of post-hoc analyses in an attempt to account for differences between the present study and previous studies. Analyses of criterion time; subject age; experimenter sex, subject sex, and individual experimenter differences; preference for the rewards; use of the materials; and testing order failed to account for differences between studies.