Who peeks: cognitive, emotional, behavioral, socialization, and child correlates of preschoolers’ resistance to temptation
European Journal of Developmental Psychology
Taylor & Francis
481 - 503
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Research over several decades has demonstrated that children’s ability to wait and delay immediate gratification in preschool is related to a multitude of developmental outcomes throughout childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood. However, less research has focused on concurrent abilities, characteristics, and contexts related to the waiting behaviour itself. This study seeks to explore some of the cognitive, emotional, behavioural, and socialization correlates of an at-risk (poor inner city) group of preschoolers’ ability to wait. The study used a resistance to temptation paradigm in which children were instructed not to peek at a ‘forbidden toy’ while left alone. As predicted, 4-year-olds’ (M = 4.5; SD = 1.2 months) general IQ and emotion knowledge were related to their delay in peeking, with longer delays related to higher scores. Results also indicated an effect of gender such that girls waited longer than boys. Contrary to expectations, there were no effects related to harsh parenting practices or to general environmental risk. Of all the variables investigated, emotion knowledge seemed to be the most important.