Television commercials as a symbolic representation of reward in the delay of gratification paradigm

Brenda Dawson, D. Balfour Jeffrey, Polly E. Peterson, John Sommers, Greg Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The effects of television commercials as a symbolic representation in the delay of gratification paradigm were studied. Preschool children waiting for a food reward in a no-television-commercial condition had substantially shorter waiting times than children in a food-ad or a toy-ad condition. However, there were no significant differences between the food-ad and the toy-ad group in terms of amount of time waited. A post hoc analysis suggested that both the toy ads and the food ads had, as their most salient feature to the children, not consummatory or play aspects but general "fun," distracting aspects. This replicates Mischel, Ebbesen, and Zeiss's (1972) finding that children's generating fun thoughts served to facilitate their delaying. The need for research on the influence of television commercials on children's self-control and the apparent feasibility of the delay of gratification paradigm as one experimental approach are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-224
Number of pages8
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1985

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