Delayed gratification, or deferred gratification, is the resistance to the temptation of an immediate pleasure in the hope of obtaining a valuable and long-lasting reward in the long-term. In other words, delayed gratification describes the process that the subject undergoes when the subject resists the temptation of an immediate reward in preference for a later reward. Generally, delayed gratification is associated with resisting a smaller but more immediate reward in order to receive a larger or more enduring reward later. A growing body of literature has linked the ability to delay gratification to a host of other positive outcomes, including academic success, physical health, psychological health, and social competence.
A person's ability to delay gratification relates to other similar skills such as patience, impulse control, self-control and willpower, all of which are involved in self-regulation. Broadly, self-regulation encompasses a person's capacity to adapt the self as necessary to meet demands of the environment. Delaying gratification is the reverse of delay discounting, which is "the preference for smaller immediate rewards over larger but delayed rewards" and refers to the "fact that the subjective value of reward decreases with increasing delay to its receipt". It is theorized that the ability to choose delayed rewards is under the control of the cognitive-affective personality system (CAPS). (Full article...)