Why Superman can wait: Cognitive self-transformation in the delay of gratification paradigm

Rachel Karniol, Lior Galili, Dafna Shtilerman, Reut Naim, Karin Stern, Hadar Manjoch, Rotem Silverman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


We examined middle-class Israeli preschoolers' cognitive self-transformation in the delay of gratification paradigm. In Study 1, 66 un-caped or Superman-caped preschoolers delayed gratification, half with instructions regarding Superman's delay-relevant qualities. Caped children delayed longer, especially when instructed regarding Superman's qualities. In Study 2 with 43 preschoolers, with the respective relevant superhero qualities emphasized (i.e., patient vs. impulsive), Superman-caped children tended to delay longer than Dash-caped children. In Study 3, 48 preschoolers delayed gratification after being instructed to pretend to be Superman or a child with the same patient qualities, or after watching a video of Superman, with or without pretend instructions. Invoking Superman led to longer delays and instructions regarding Superman's qualities tended to lead to longer delays than watching the Superman video. In accounting for the data, we differentiated cognitive transformations of the reward's consummatory value and cognitive transformations as basic intellectual processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-317
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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