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Children’s ability to delay gratification is correlated with a range of positive outcomes in adulthood, showing the potential impact of helping young children increase their competence in this area. This study investigated the influence of symbolic models on 3-year-old children’s self-control. Eighty-three children were randomly assigned to one of three modelling conditions: personal story-telling, impersonal story-telling, and control. Children were tested on the delay-of-gratification maintenance paradigm both before and after being exposed to a symbolic model or control condition. Repeated measures ANOVA revealed no significant differences between the two story-telling groups and the control group, indicating that the symbolic models did not influence children’s ability to delay gratification. A serendipitous finding showed a positive relationship between children’s ability to wait and their production and accurate use of temporal terms, which was more pronounced in girls than boys. This finding may be an indication that a higher temporal vocabulary is linked to a continuous representation of the self in time, facilitating children’s representation of the future-self receiving a larger reward than what the present-self could receive.
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