Effects of rules and directed delays on components of children's inhibitory self-control

Paul Karoly, Nancy Z. Briggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The relationship between multiple measures of response inhibition and variations in young (age 5-7 years) children's short-term learning history was examined in a laboratory setting. Exposure to experimenter-directed delay periods (of either increasing, decreasing, or fixed durations) and to various rules for behavior management during the delay intervals was manipulated. Subsequent measures of resistance to temptation, an index of conceptual tempo (the Matching Familiar Figures Test), children's preference for delay vs immediate reward, and a test of motor control was obtained. Results indicated: (a) that the effects of rule provision extended to all resistance measures and to MFFT latency, while delay experiences significantly influenced only the latency to first transgression in the resistance task; (b) that a general and positive rationale for response inhibition was superior to an arbitrary rule or no rule structure; (c) that experience with gradually increasing delay of reward assisted children in inhibiting their first transgression significantly longer than the other delay patterns or no treatment; and (d) that experimental effects showed temporal stability over one week.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-279
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1978
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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