Sex Roles

, Volume 49, Issue 9, pp 451-463

First online:

Gender Differences in Delay of Gratification: A Meta-Analysis

  • Irwin W. SilvermanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Bowling Green State University

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A series of meta-analyses were conducted to test Bjorklund and Kipp's hypothesis that due to selection pressures operating during evolution, women and girls are better able than men and boys to delay gratification (Bjorklund & Kipp, 1996). A total of 38 effect sizes were derived from 33 studies in which participants made one or more choices between a small (or less preferred) immediate reward and a large (or more preferred) delayed reward. Overall, there was a small female advantage (r = .058). Further analyses revealed that the female advantage was larger when continuous measures (r = .096) rather than dichotomous measures were used (r = .021). No evidence was found for the gender gap changing systematically with age. Discussion focuses primarily on alternative explanations for the gender difference found here. Consideration is also given to how the female advantage in delay of gratification might be reflected in real-life situations.

delay of gratification sex differences age differences meta-analysis