Coping strategies and attentional mechanisms in self-imposed and externally imposed delay situations

Dale T. Miller*, Rachel Karniol

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conducted 2 experiments to examine the relationship between frustration and coping strategies in 2 delay-of-gratification situations: self-imposed delay (optional waiting for a preferred reward) and externally imposed delay (required waiting for a preferred reward); Ss were 82 2nd and 3rd graders. It was hypothesized that the frustration generated by the 2 situations would evoke different coping strategies. Grade 3 Ss were found to spend less time attending to reward-relevant cues in self-imposed delay than in externally imposed delay. The impact of physically present, deferred rewards on attentional behavior was dependent on the delay situation. Ss engrossed themselves more in a reward-irrelevant activity in self-imposed delay when the reward was physically present than when it was absent, whereas the opposite pattern emerged under externally imposed delay. Exp II indicated that increasing the time Ss expected to wait resulted in decreased attention to reward-relevant stimuli in self-imposed delay but not in externally imposed delay. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-316
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1976


  • 3rd graders
  • attention to reward-relevant cues, 2nd &
  • physical presence vs absence of reward, coping strategies &
  • self- vs externally-imposed delay of gratification situations &


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