Patience, a quality that can be learned

Patience, a quality that can be learned

The world seems divided into two categories of people: the patient and the impatient. However, patience is not an innate quality. An American study, published in the journal Nature Communications, states that it is much easier to be patient when you focus on the reward, and not on the wait.

A US-Chinese research team came to this conclusion after conducting an experiment with 353 students. They were faced with a dilemma: wait seven days to receive $40 or wait thirty days to receive $60. Volunteers had to indicate their choice on a screen so that software could track and record the movements they made with the computer mouse.

Time is money…really?

The researchers gave participants more or less time to make their decision. In some cases, they had a few seconds to choose between the two options presented to them. In others, they could take as much time as they wanted.

It turns out that more than half of the students preferred to wait 30 days to earn $60. And this, regardless of the thinking time they had. Surprisingly, it appeared that the volunteers were more likely to be patient when they had to make their choice in a few seconds. Conversely, they tended to choose the impulsive option more, that is to say earning 40 dollars after seven days, when they took the time to think.

Students with an impatient nature were more likely to choose the reasonable option when they could think about their choice as long as they wanted.

Good in his body, good in his head!

Learn to tolerate frustration

For Ian Krajbich, lead author of the study, this shows how time pressure has different effects depending on individuals. “If you are someone who focuses on reward first, time pressure accentuates this and makes you more patient. And if you are a little impatient by nature and focus first on deadlines, time pressure amplifies that impatience” he said in a statement.

Ian Krajbich and his colleagues noticed, however, that participants were more patient when they focused on the reward, not the wait. “If people consider money first, they are more likely to choose the patient option, whereas if they consider deadlines first, they are more likely to choose the impatient option. If you’re trying to get people to be more patient by getting them to slow down or speed up their decision-making, you need to know which dimension they’re going to focus on first. This will determine the best strategy to adopt“, underlines Mr. Krajbich in the same press release.

This study shows that patience is a quality that can be cultivated. To do this, you must learn to tolerate frustration and delay rewards. The point of being patient is to achieve the goals you set; it is not an end in itself. Exalted people therefore have every interest in accepting their impatience with kindness rather than exhausting themselves by being what they are not. There are advantages to being patient and others to being more impatient.