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Dissociable Contributions of Imagination and Willpower to the Malleability of Human Patience.

Psychol Sci. 2017 May 01;:956797617698133

Authors: Jenkins AC, Hsu M

The ability to exercise patience is important for human functioning. Although it is known that patience can be promoted by using top-down control, or willpower, to override impatient impulses, patience is also malleable-in particular, susceptible to framing effects-in ways that are difficult to explain using willpower alone. So far, the mechanisms underlying framing effects on patience have been elusive. We investigated the role of imagination in these effects. In a behavioral experiment (Experiment 1), a classic framing manipulation (sequence framing) increased self-reported and independently coded imagination during intertemporal choice. In an investigation of neural responses during decision making (Experiment 2), sequence framing increased the extent to which patience was related to activation in brain regions associated with imagination, relative to activation in regions associated with willpower, and increased functional connectivity of brain regions associated with imagination, but not willpower, relative to regions associated with valuation. Our results suggest that sequence framing can increase the role of imagination in decision making without increasing the exertion of willpower.

PMID: 28504898 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]