Friday, January 14, 2005

Impulsiveness versus Patience

by Asim Jalis

Here is a link to a news story about research on impulsiveness in blue jays and the importance of short-term rewards for them: Link to story. Here are some excerpts from the story: > In experiments with blue jays, David Stephens, a professor of > ecology, evolution and behavior in the [University of > Minnesota's] College of Biological Sciences, found that birds > presented with a choice of getting a small food reward > immediately or waiting a short time for a bigger one could not > be trained to wait, even after a thousand repetitions. > > "Animals, I think, come with a hardwired rule that says, 'Don't > look too far in the future,'" Stephens said. "Being impulsive > works really well because after grabbing the food, they can > forget it and go back to their original foraging behavior. That > behavior can achieve high long-term gains even if it's > impulsive." > > "When psychologists study kids who are good at waiting for a > reward, they find those kids generallly do better in life. It > looks as though this is a key to success in the modern world, > so why is it so hard for us to accept delays? The answer may be > because we evolved as foragers who encountered no penalties for > taking resources impulsively."