Waiting longer actually makes us more patient?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

fish clock
Watching the clock sometimes seems to make time move even slower, especially when you’re waiting for something.

Whether we’re stuck in a car idling in traffic, standing behind hundreds of kids in a lunch line, or waiting for a movie to come out in theaters, no one enjoys waiting. It just makes us get all antsy; the longer we wait, the more impulsive, impatient, and frantic we get!

However, a study from the University of Chicago finds that waiting actually makes us more patient and thoughtful! This seems to go against everything we feel while we’re waiting, though, so how did the researchers figure this?

Well, they started off with different groups that were offered money for participating in the research. However, each one was given a different choice for when and how much money they would receive.

One group could either get $50 if they wait 3 days or $55 if they could stretch their patience for 23 days. Apparently, 31% of them chose to get the $50 sooner instead of waiting to get more.

Meanwhile, another group was given the same options as the previous one with a single difference: they had to wait 27 days before making their choice. Would forcing the volunteers to wait make them want the money as soon as possible? Actually, it had the opposite effect: 81% of them waited for the $55!

Why was this? “People tend to value things more in the present and discount their worth in the future,” said Ayelet Fishbach, a researcher from the University of Chicago. “But my research suggests that making people wait to make a decision can improve their patience because the process of waiting makes the reward for waiting seem more valuable.”

Featured image courtesy of Margot Gabel on Flickr. Image of fish and clock courtesy of _AB_ on Flickr.