Image: 123RF/ avemario
Image: 123RF/ avemario

A new study has found that the most important factor in deciding whether or not people will get wealthier is their ability to delay gratification.

The study, published in Frontiers of Psychology, was headlined "Good things for those who wait: predictive modeling highlights importance of delay discounting for income attainment".

The study sought to answer “a simple yet essential question: why do some individuals make more money than others?”

The study tested a large sample of 2,564 people and used three machine-learning algorithms “to model the relationship between income and age, gender, height, race, zip code, education, occupation and discounting".

The authors concluded: “We found that delay discounting is more predictive of income than age, ethnicity or height.”

The study said: “There is evidence that future rewards are discounted less when people engage in greater episodic future thinking. Heightened or more vivid episodic future thinking is thought to induce heightened functional neural coupling of key valuation and decision-making brain areas. Put simply, if people can vividly imagine themselves in the future with the larger rewards, they are more likely to be patient.”