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Starcrossed

Deferred Gratification

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I present this as a discussion point if anyone wants to take me up on it!

What marks out when a person has 'grown up'? IMO one of the markers of adulthood is the ability to wait for a reward and the ability to work for the reward in the knowledge that the reward will come.

Children find this difficult because their concept of time is very different from that of an adult, they tend to live in the 'now'. One of the key roles of a parent IMO is to teach patience and the ability to wait for dinner/nintendo/whatever.

If you look at people that get into financial trouble they tend not to have developed this sense of patience - perhaps because they have been spoilt as a child, not had the skills needed passed on by their parents or whatever.

Now what are the roots of the concept of 'deferred gratification'? Is it the need for early agricultural societies to adjust to the seasons and scarcity? Or is it the Christian idea of denial as a moral virtue? Or some mix of the two?

Anywhichways, we now live in a largely post-Christian-post-scarcity society. Therefore two planks of the 'deferred gratification' psychological mindset have been weakened. Add to that the global expansion of credit that started with the Reformation and here we are. With neither a moral nor a practical reason to wait for anything with the resulting 'live for now' attitude.

Is it the return of scarcity what we need to restore psychological maturity or some spiritual change?

Just wondering what folks on HPC think about this thought. Is it relevant to 2007?

Edited by Starcrossed

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Guest DissipatedYouthIsValuable
Just wondering what folks on HPC think about this thought. Is it relevant to 2007?

I'll tell you tomorrow.

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Just wondering what folks on HPC think about this thought. Is it relevant to 2007?

Good post and very relevant indeed. Yes, the last few years have been anamalous in the great historical scheme of things - interesting also to note that, as soon as we are allowed to revert to this infantile state, our narrowed perspective tends to lead us to the conclusion that such a state is both permanent and worthwhile - i.e. we do not understand that our behaviour is anamolous.

It is frightening the amount of people who genuinely believe that, in the last half-century, we have permanently eradicated or mastered many of the fundamental natural forces that we had to contend with since the beginning of mankind (and others long before that).

What is needed, in my view, is a little humility and an understanding of our true place in the universe. Only a damn good metaphorical spanking will take us back there.

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Good post and very relevant indeed. Yes, the last few years have been anamalous in the great historical scheme of things - interesting also to note that, as soon as we are allowed to revert to this infantile state, our narrowed perspective tends to lead us to the conclusion that such a state is both permanent and worthwhile - i.e. we do not understand that our behaviour is anamolous.

It is frightening the amount of people who genuinely believe that, in the last half-century, we have permanently eradicated or mastered many of the fundamental natural forces that we had to contend with since the beginning of mankind (and others long before that).

What is needed, in my view, is a little humility and an understanding of our true place in the universe. Only a damn good metaphorical spanking will take us back there.

Yep. And maybe an understanding that bad things can happen in life. The rules allow it.

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I reckon the death of religion, or at least the end of a belief in life after death.

If there is no gratification or consequences in the next life, then why would you want to wait for your gratification in this one?

Of course you do have to contend with the concept of facing the consequences in this one, starting about now for a lot of people.

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"Children think about the present"

"Adults think about the future"

"The old think about the past"

Forget where I heard that but I think that rather succinctly defines the mindset of each 'category'. Despite what the ONS say we have a LOT of children in this country.

PS: agree with each of the points you make

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Agree with most of your post, but the big problem these days is that people don´t believe they will receive their entitlement once they´ve put the effort in. Pensions is a good example and also the NHS - will the young who are paying taxes now ever get the benefit of free health care in the future?

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If you go to work on Wall ST or the City of LOndon there is no deferred gratification. results and profits have to be seen yesterday.

they are the spolit brats running the whole show,

that is at the root of so many evils in the world from wars to starvation caused by impoverished countries paying interest on loans.

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Now what are the roots of the concept of 'deferred gratification'? Is it the need for early agricultural societies to adjust to the seasons and scarcity? Or is it the Christian idea of denial as a moral virtue? Or some mix of the two?

The concept of 'deferred gratification' can also be expressed as: 'preparing for the future'. Putting it that way makes it very clear that it's a basic survival trait: societies and individuals that practice it will pass on their values and genes; those that don't will perish.

Perhaps the problem was that it evolved in times when 'the future' was a season (or a few seasons) away. Seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, and all that. Humans would have understood the possibility of scarcity and hardship on a very personal level. Today, we have a rising prosperity that's spanned generations, leaving us ill-prepared for the exhaustion of the resources that have enabled all these industrial and agricultural miracles. In that sense, we are more like bacteria in a petri dish than rational beings.

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Good post (you always make thoughtful posts, a nice antidote to the ranters), but as Jimmyjazz says it's the people at the top and the people who hog the media who are setting the moral compass, and their clear priority is jam today and let tomorrow take care of itself.

I can't blame an impressionable youngster for looking at everyone from a captain of industry (this quarter's profits are up) to a Big Brother contestant (what do I have to do to get through today's vote?) to the average rapper (I want a Mercedes and I want it now), and conclude that self denial, let alone self sacrifice, is just a mug's game.

Come back Biggles, you may have been a plonker in many respects but at least you behaved as if you weren't the pivot of the universe!

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If you go to work on Wall ST or the City of LOndon there is no deferred gratification. results and profits have to be seen yesterday.

they are the spolit brats running the whole show,

that is at the root of so many evils in the world from wars to starvation caused by impoverished countries paying interest on loans.

Wall St and the City are like sweet shops.They started an open door policy and allowed more than two children at a time to enter..........

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I present this as a discussion point if anyone wants to take me up on it!

What marks out when a person has 'grown up'? IMO one of the markers of adulthood is the ability to wait for a reward and the ability to work for the reward in the knowledge that the reward will come.

Children find this difficult because their concept of time is very different from that of an adult, they tend to live in the 'now'. One of the key roles of a parent IMO is to teach patience and the ability to wait for dinner/nintendo/whatever.

If you look at people that get into financial trouble they tend not to have developed this sense of patience - perhaps because they have been spoilt as a child, not had the skills needed passed on by their parents or whatever.

Now what are the roots of the concept of 'deferred gratification'? Is it the need for early agricultural societies to adjust to the seasons and scarcity? Or is it the Christian idea of denial as a moral virtue? Or some mix of the two?

Anywhichways, we now live in a largely post-Christian-post-scarcity society. Therefore two planks of the 'deferred gratification' psychological mindset have been weakened. Add to that the global expansion of credit that started with the Reformation and here we are. With neither a moral nor a practical reason to wait for anything with the resulting 'live for now' attitude.

Is it the return of scarcity what we need to restore psychological maturity or some spiritual change?

Just wondering what folks on HPC think about this thought. Is it relevant to 2007?

Good post Starcrossed.

The return to scarcity could indeed provide the stimuli for change into more spiritual / mature pursuits. However, IMO one of the factors contributing to the current trend towards instant gratificaction where consumersim is concerned is the highly developed and efficient marketing machine. Adam Curtis probably describes it better than i ever could.

This is what drives capatilism at its heart the ability to manipulate people to purchase things they neither really want or need. Buy youself to a happier life. This is of course compounded by the society this thinking creates, keeping up with the jones's, feeling less than if you don't have the right clothes, right gadgets, 2 holidays a year and a horrendous amount of debt to a bank (in the name of "owning your own house").

I see it all the time, my missus goes round her friends who has just brought a new settee, nothing wrong with the old one, she then starts talking about getting a new settee as well - society has becomes a self reinforcing loop of desire and purchase.

So if we return to scarcity i suppose eventually the self reinforcing loop will be to make do, get bargains, grow your own etc. The problem i see is the transition - what if we have to return to scarcity whilst still hungry with desire? Can't see em going down without a fight.......

F :unsure:

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Guest DissipatedYouthIsValuable
What is needed, in my view, is a little humility and an understanding of our true place in the universe. Only a damn good metaphorical spanking will take us back there.

Nonsense. We need real spanking.

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However, IMO one of the factors contributing to the current trend towards instant gratificaction where consumersim is concerned is the highly developed and efficient marketing machine. Adam Curtis probably describes it better than i ever could.

This is what drives capatilism at its heart the ability to manipulate people to purchase things they neither really want or need.

I can understand why many people believe this, but I'm not entirely convinced that advertising and marketing is as potent as its practitioners would have us believe (and I'm one of the practitioners).

My view is that we each carry the seeds of this destruction within us, as soon as we have secured our immediate survival we seem exclusively driven by the need for status. So advertising doesn't originate the desire, that's already present, all it does is light the touchpaper of our own emotions. After all, avarice and social climbing were around long before television advertising or commercial sponsorship.

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I present this as a discussion point if anyone wants to take me up on it!

What marks out when a person has 'grown up'? IMO one of the markers of adulthood is the ability to wait for a reward and the ability to work for the reward in the knowledge that the reward will come.

Children find this difficult because their concept of time is very different from that of an adult, they tend to live in the 'now'. One of the key roles of a parent IMO is to teach patience and the ability to wait for dinner/nintendo/whatever.

If you look at people that get into financial trouble they tend not to have developed this sense of patience - perhaps because they have been spoilt as a child, not had the skills needed passed on by their parents or whatever.

Now what are the roots of the concept of 'deferred gratification'? Is it the need for early agricultural societies to adjust to the seasons and scarcity? Or is it the Christian idea of denial as a moral virtue? Or some mix of the two?

Anywhichways, we now live in a largely post-Christian-post-scarcity society. Therefore two planks of the 'deferred gratification' psychological mindset have been weakened. Add to that the global expansion of credit that started with the Reformation and here we are. With neither a moral nor a practical reason to wait for anything with the resulting 'live for now' attitude.

Is it the return of scarcity what we need to restore psychological maturity or some spiritual change?

Just wondering what folks on HPC think about this thought. Is it relevant to 2007?

Not sure how it helps the debate but impulse control and delayed gratification are thought to be heavily dependent on the operation of the frontal cortex, and recent studies have suggested that the frontal lobes aren't fully developed until early adulthood. So it's likely there is a biological reality behind the idea that delayed gratification is an indicator of full mental development as an adult.

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Not sure how it helps the debate but impulse control and delayed gratification are thought to be heavily dependent on the operation of the frontal cortex, and recent studies have suggested that the frontal lobes aren't fully developed until early adulthood. So it's likely there is a biological reality behind the idea that delayed gratification is an indicator of full mental development as an adult.

Very interesting, it does raise the question of whether modern lifestyles somehow retard the development of the frontal cortex!

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I present this as a discussion point if anyone wants to take me up on it!

What marks out when a person has 'grown up'? IMO one of the markers of adulthood is the ability to wait for a reward and the ability to work for the reward in the knowledge that the reward will come.

Children find this difficult because their concept of time is very different from that of an adult, they tend to live in the 'now'. One of the key roles of a parent IMO is to teach patience and the ability to wait for dinner/nintendo/whatever.

Just a few thoughts.

I try to live in the now, several times a day I bring my mind back to the present.

Certainly children are often focused intensely on "the now" but gradually focus more

and more on future events, experiences , gizmos etc. Most adults live almost

exclusively in the future....black friday, what car to buy next, next new kitchen, next , next.......

As we age further, we live more and more in the past.

"Role of parents to teach patience and the ability to wait....." Surely that would be a case of

the blind leading the not quite so blind in most cases !?

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Just a few thoughts.

I try to live in the now, several times a day I bring my mind back to the present.

Certainly children are often focused intensely on "the now" but gradually focus more

and more on future events, experiences , gizmos etc. Most adults live almost

exclusively in the future....black friday, what car to buy next, next new kitchen, next , next.......

As we age further, we live more and more in the past.

"Role of parents to teach patience and the ability to wait....." Surely that would be a case of

the blind leading the not quite so blind in most cases !?

Ha, caught me...

'Why worry about tomorrow, the birds in the sky don't worry and yet the Lord provides for them' <paraphrase>

Balancing the need to plan for tomorrow with the need not to worry about tomorrow. On which side of the fence do you sit on?!?

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I can understand why many people believe this, but I'm not entirely convinced that advertising and marketing is as potent as its practitioners would have us believe (and I'm one of the practitioners).

My view is that we each carry the seeds of this destruction within us, as soon as we have secured our immediate survival we seem exclusively driven by the need for status. So advertising doesn't originate the desire, that's already present, all it does is light the touchpaper of our own emotions. After all, avarice and social climbing were around long before television advertising or commercial sponsorship.

Point taken.

So we could have Desire + Basic needs being met + individual genetic make up and learning history x by advertising and marketing = Aspirational and uneccessary purchasing. ?

I guess that is why these things influence every individual differently - i.e. we don't all buy the same things - my missus wants to waste her cash on new settees and she says i waste mine on going to football........ She is probably right.

F

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Really good post Starcrossed.

I'd actually split this up and answer it as two separate points. Firstly, what makes you grown up? There are lots of things that mark people out as mature - you can have sons and daughters of parents who take an active role in looking after their younger brothers or sisters when their parents are busy or away from the house briefly for what ever reason - people take on responsibility at various points/ times in their lives, whether by fate or by accident, and often these experiences stay with them, both as a positive and negative experience. For me personally it was realising that I had a job and role to look after my grandmother when she became sick, both to help her, and also to support my parents through a particularly tough time. This also coincided with the last economic downturn in the early 90's, however at that time, I was, essentially clueless about external influences. It was only later on that I realised how much financial as well as emotinal strain my parents had been under.

Sorry, I'm digressing. Anyway, I think there's another point that gets missed. You realise you've grown up when you are forced to accept the fact that you, and you alone can make the difference in your own life, because nobody else is responsible for the decisions and steps you take. Once you reach that milestone, things, in some respects become harder, but they also make life simpler, because you concentrate on what you NEED rather than what you WANT.

Secondly though, also about the pace of life, the number of opportunities, the type of environment we're in - it's all about things that are temporary, superficial, fast changing - and this extends to working as well as personal life, and things like rising divorce rates, single occupancy and obesity both in kids, adults and growing rates of cancers, heart disease, the epidemic we've got in alcoholism and drug taking that merely emphasise the dislocations we've got going on in society. It's not just about HPI.

Now, in an environment like this, I don't think denial comes into it to be honest. It's more a case of, if you don't do this, you'll either be penalised, or, more likely, just get left behind. What's more, I think in the vast majority of cases, working life for most people becomes an extension of their school days, where they either keep up with the pack, or, learn to watch from the sidelines. For me, this idea of life being one long consumerist picnic to people is now appearing to become the norm is a great fear. That's the fear. My generation (just about), and the one in advance of it, is also the first who've been truly exposed to wall to wall media outlets, 24hr news, entertainment, full IT literacy and all the associated shenanigans that goes with this time. We are shaped by what we're told like no other time, not by our parents, but by the all pervading smell of capitalism that's partially, or fully replaced a solid stable upbringing and teaching of basic values. Our brains are so saturated with it - it's now become almost cradle to the grave if you will.

GT.

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