We examined the effect of the distinct positive emotions pride and joy on children's self-regulation, focusing on their ability to delay gratification (i.e., resist a temptation in favor of a long-term goal). We hypothesized that because pride corresponds to the attainment of long-term goals and joy corresponds to the attainment of immediate desires, the experience of pride may signal sufficient progress toward a long-term goal, resulting in less delay of gratification than the experience of joy. To test this hypothesis, we induced an experience of pride or joy in 8-year-old children. At this age, the ability to self-regulate-and to experience pride and joy distinctively-is relatively mature. We then measured performance in a delay discounting task. We found that, compared with the joy condition and a control condition, children who experienced pride performed worse on the delay discounting task (p=.045), indicating poorer self-regulation. This result suggests that emotions may function as cues for sufficient goal pursuit, thereby influencing self-regulation from a very young age.
- Delay discounting
- Delay of gratification
- Positive emotion
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology