Friday, September 13, 2013


“Impulsivity arises from a tendency to want small imminent rewards more than big future benefits. How can we correct our skewed values to care for our future selves?”

By: David H Freedman

Published: Scientific American Mind; March / April 2013; 
To Access the Article copy paste the following: 
Level of Difficulty: ****(this is an easy level ****)
·         Do you have strong willpower?
·         Can you resist temptation or do you give in?
·         Have you tried to control yourself? How do you do it?
1.       What does “this foolish exchange” at the beginning of paragraph two refer to?
2.       Why do we possess such a seemingly harmful tendency as temporal discounting?
3.       If the effects of temporal discounting could be eliminated, our quality of life could be seriously improved because ………………………………………………………………………………………..
4.       How can impulsivity be controled? There are two answers; find them both.
5.       How does perception of time impact temporal discounting?
6.       You are going to go out to dine with your friends and you decide you will have a salad and avoid dessert. But as you approach the restraunt, all your good intentions seem to melt away. Why does this happen?
7.       You see a pair of very attractive shoes in a shop window. You don’t really need the shoes and money is tight. How can you resist temptation? Why does this method work?
8.       What conclusion can we draw from the paragraph discussing the students in McClure’s laboratory?
9.       What general conclusion can we draw from the University of Toronto study?
10.    Read psychologist Michael Cameron’s methods carefully. For what general, underlying reason do his methods work?
11.   Read the example of the expensive car. Why does the advice to the buyer work?
12.   What does “this aversion” in the phrase “we might be able to circumvent this aversion” refer to?
13.   Read the example of the Stanford faculty and staff members. Why did the second group increase their pension deductions?
Use any notes you made while reading the text and your own experience to write a problem solution essay on the following topic: How to avoid temptation. Use the points below but remember to provide examples and supprt.
·         Giving people specific information about the consequences of their action and asking them to repeat it out loud.
·         Asking people to delay for five minutes
·         Asking people to focus on future benefits to people dependent on them
·         Avoiding fast food restraunts
This is a text that will appeal to almost everyone as resisting temptation is a challenge we all have deal with. The science behind temptation and why we give in is really fascinating and should go very well. An added bonus is that the text provides the opprtunity to write a good problem solution essay.
1.       The exchange of long term health and self image problems for a few minutes of pleasant mouth feel and belly comfort.
2.       It may have been programmed into us by evolution at a time when the environment, with its meany threats to our survival, favored those who grabbed whatever they could whenever they could get it.
3.       We would be more likely to eat more healthfully, exercise, stay out of debt and even avoid drug and alcohol addiction.
4.       By shifting activity in the brain from the limbic sysytem to the prefrontal cortex; by making the sooner, smaller reward seem less compelling and getting the larger, later reward to attract more attention.
5.       The ability to estimate spans of time becomes skewed when comparing sooner versus later rewards.
6.       The perceived gap between the value of sooner and later rewards grows as the time to the sooner reward approaches.
7.       By waiting five minutes before you shop; it cuts the appeal of the gift in half.
8.       Certain environmental cues can also trick the brain into judging time in ways that mitigate temporal discounting.
9.       The sensory cues of fast food establishments may serve to speed up our internal clocks.
10.   Our brains tend to grasp events that are further in the future in vaguer terms than events close at hand. The doctor helped his patients gather specific information about more distant rewards. He, therefore, helped far off goals effectively compete for attention with immediate goals. The whole thing is the best answer but the last sentence on its own is acceptable.
11.   Because it is information specific to the individual and directly connected to that particular decsion.
12.   The fact that we don’t want to think about our older selves.

13.   They tapped into our sense of obligation to people who depend on us; they evoked a moral obligation to take care of a future self who was dependent on them.

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