Babies have no ability to delay gratification. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, some grownups aren’t much better.
But a new study suggests that the inability to hold off on things we desire may not be the result of upbringing or some kind of moral failing. Turns out, some of us are just hard-wired for instant gratification, according to a 40-year follow-up study led by B.J. Casey, director of the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Weill Cornell Medical College. The research first looked at the behavior of preschoolers who were offered the choice between a cookie now or two cookies later. Subsequent results show that the kids who couldn’t delay gratification grew into adults who were similarly unable to do so.
Over the course of the recent study, the researchers were able for the first time to identify the specific areas of the brain where desire takes hold. “This could have major implications in the treatment of obesity and addictions,” says Casey.