We investigated whether the developmental emergence of episodic future thinking (EFT) is associated with performance on a type of delay of gratification task: a delay choice task that involved choosing between a small reward now or a larger reward the next day. In Study 1, 4-to-5-year-olds’ (N = 99) EFT as measured by a tool saving task was significantly associated with performance on the delay choice task, but this was not the case for other EFT measures. Study 2 compared the performance of 4-to-5-year-olds (N = 130) on the delay choice task when cued to think about either a future, past, or habitual event versus a no-cue baseline. Overall, cueing impaired performance on the delay choice task. While EFT does show a relation to performance in a delay choice task in pre-schoolers, deliberately engaging in thought about future events may be too taxing in young children to reliably enhance the ability to make future-oriented decisions.
|Publication status||Accepted - 19 Feb 2021|