Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 786–802 | Cite as

Priming pride promotes delay of gratification

  • Einav ShimoniEmail author
  • Andrea Berger
  • Tal Eyal
Original Paper


Distinct positive emotions signal adherence to specific goals: pride signals the successful pursuit of long-term goals, while joy signals the successful pursuit of immediate desires. We propose that when children are primed with a positive emotion, without actually feeling it, they are likely to pursue the goal that evokes it. Because delaying gratification involves resisting an immediate desire for the sake of a long-term goal, we predicted that, when primed with pride, children would delay gratification more often than when primed with joy. We tested 8-year-olds’ ability to delay gratification, using a delay-discounting task. We primed pride/joy by having children either imagine a future emotional event (Experiment 1) or listen to another child’s emotional experience (Experiment 2). As predicted, pride-primed children showed lower delay discounting than children who were primed with joy and the control condition, demonstrating enhanced self-regulation. These results suggest that, from a young age, simply thinking about an emotion without actually experiencing it may cue pursuit of associated goals.


Positive emotion Joy Pride Self-regulation Delay of gratification 



This study was supported by Israel Science Foundation Grant #696-15 awarded to T. Eyal.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ben-Gurion University of the NegevBeer ShevaIsrael

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