Instant Gratification: The Necessity of Patience

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Patience is a virtue, right? This is probably the most cliché phrase regarding patience, but with the major advancements in technology over the last 20 years or so, it seems that not much patience is needed anymore. Think about it, one can make credit card payments, get a taxi, talk to a friend across the world, or even check their mail – all of this online, right from their home, and within the matter of seconds. As technology grows, our behaviors change and adapt to the revolutionized world around us. That is, when people are presented with easier, faster and more efficient ways to do things, they will always take that route. It seems that people have adopted a need for instant gratification that is guided by modern technology, but they ultimately expect it in all facets of their life. In my multimedia project I will investigate this issue and the results of a society that no longer has time to slow down.

Although instant gratification is the result of high-end technology that provides us with a much easier lifestyle, there are some limitations to it. Take for example the longitudinal psychology study done by Dr. Walter Mischel that addressed exactly this. The video below is a replication of the exact study done by Dr. Walter Mischel.

Dr. Mischel studied these same students 20 years later and found that the preschoolers who were patient enough to wait 15 minutes to double their treat were more intelligent, had higher SAT scores, had more self-control, had better abilities related to concentration, and were less likely to be overweight adults (Discovery). So, there is reason to suppose that delayed gratification contributes to a healthier lifestyle and overall well being, but more significantly demands further investigation of the matter.

Take a look at another study done by a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In his study, professor Ramesh Sitaraman examined how long people would wait for a video to load on a computer. The picture below is a graph that displays his findings.

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One of the most significant parts of this graph shows that people displayed impatience only after two seconds. Yes, just two seconds! To clarify any possible misunderstandings by these obscene findings, this means that if the video was not completely loaded after two seconds, the participants in the study simply chose not to wait for the video to load and directed their attention elsewhere. Furthermore, after one half of a minute almost all of the participants in the study displayed impatience by deciding not to wait for the video to load. Internet speeds have risen so much that people expect for their wait time to be almost none. Advancements in technology have provided people with these high expectations that ultimately deplete people’s patience. Professor Narayan Janakiraman best puts it, “the need for instant gratification is not new, but our expectation of ‘instant’ has become faster, and as a result, our patience is thinner” (The Boston Globe, Christopher Muther). This is most synonymous with my aforementioned words that if people are presented with an easier, faster, and more efficient way of doing something, they are always going to take that route.

Although much research has been done in this field, I am interested in the real world applications of these findings. Specifically, I am developing a study that aims to explore this new realm of instant gratification in relation to race and gender. The purpose of my research project is to search for any clues that would help to answer some of the questions related to instant gratification (i.e. why people cannot wait more than two seconds for a video to load). My procedure would entail the surveying of Harvard College students, and these surveys would consist of many hypothetical situations in which the participants (Harvard College students) would determine how long they would be willing to wait for something. One example of a hypothetical situation that would likely be in the survey is the following condition; “You are expecting a very important package in the mail. How long would you be willing to wait for this package to arrive?” After quantifying the findings of the surveys, I am curious to see if there will be significant implications that can be extracted from the results of these surveys. And furthermore, if I am to find a positive relationship between gender in relation to instant gratification, I would then aim to trace these findings back to the biological factors of males and females. That is, I would see if the biological differences in males in females may be able to provide insight on the results of my surveys. The experiment conducted does not appear to cross ethical boundaries, as the survey results will be anonymous and the potential insights of my questioning will be revealed after the survey is completed. I will immediately begin to brainstorm how to recruit the best candidates from the most randomized grouping of people, and also the construction of my survey. I would expect to accomplish this in a week or two. I suspect that the data collection, quantification, and analysis will also take about a week. With regards to the usage of multimedia in my project, I would like to include my own graphs reflecting the data collected in my experiment, as well as the images and videos of related research.

Based on the research that has already been done, there are serious implications for why patience is a value that should be cherished and practiced. However, in a world where technology provides for a much faster, easier, and more efficient lifestyle, it is hard to determine ways to condone this technological revolution, while still taking into consideration the importance and value of patience. This issue presents itself as a serious concern that warrants further investigation, as it will be a definite obstacle of our future. So, I will pursue this avenue in search for the answers to the questions related instant gratification.

Works Cited:

“Big Question: Is Technology Killing Our Ability To Practice Patience?” Discovery. Discovery, n.d. Web. 17 October 2014.

“Marshmallow Instant Gratification Experiment.” Youtube. Youtube, 28 January 2013. Web. 17 October 2014.

Muther, Christopher. “Instant Gratification Is Making Us Perpetually Impatient – The Boston Globe.” The Boston Globe. N.p., 2 February 2013. Web. 16 October 2014.

“Patience Screenshot.” 2014. JPG file.

“The Boston Globe Screenshot.” 2014. JPG file.


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