• The effect of episodic future simulation and motivation on young children’s induced-state episodic foresight

      Mahy, Caitlin; Masson, Chelsey; Krause, Amanda M.; Mazachowsky, Tessa (Elsevier, 2020)
      Examined the impact of episodic simulation and motivation on children’s episodic foresight. Thirst was induced and children were asked to make future choices. 3- to 5-year-olds completed the pretzel task under 4 different experimental conditions. Children’s future predictions were most accurate in the motivation condition. A novel and motivating food item, a cupcake, helped children overcome their current state of thirst. Future simulation and motivation are two strategies that might help children improve their induced-state episodic foresight. In Study 1, 3- to 5-year-old children (N = 96) consumed pretzels (to induce thirst) and were asked what they would prefer the next day, pretzels or water. Children were randomly assigned to an experimental condition: (1) a standard thirsty condition, (2) an episodic simulation condition where they imagined being hungry the next day, (3) a motivation condition where children chose between a cupcake and water, or (4) a control condition (thirst was not induced). Future preferences did not differ by age and children were less likely to choose water (vs. a cupcake) in the motivation condition compared to the standard thirsty condition. Study 2 found that 3- to 5-year-old children (N = 22) were also less likely to choose water for right now versus a cupcake when thirst was induced.
    • The effect of psychological distance on young children's future predictions

      Mazachowsky, Tessa R.; Koktavy, Christine; Mahy, Caitlin (John Wiley and Sons, 2019)
      The current study examined the impact of psychological distance on children's performance on the pretzel task. In this task, children eat pretzels (inducing thirst) and then are asked to reason about future preferences (pretzels or water). Children typically perform poorly on this task, indicating a future preference for water over pretzels, potentially due to conflicting current and future states. Given past work showing that children's future reasoning is more accurate for another person, we asked 90 thirsty 3‐ to 7‐year‐olds to reason about their own and an experimenter's future preference. Results showed that thirsty children had more difficulty predicting their own future preference compared with the experimenter's. Thirstier children were more likely to predict a future preference for water. Thirst interacted with age when making a future choice for the experimenter. How psychological distance might boost episodic foresight and possible reasons for children's poor pretzel task performance are discussed. Does psychological distancing improve children's ability to make accurate future predictions when current and future states conflict? Using the Pretzel task, thirsty children were less accurate when predicting their own future preferences compared with the future preferences of another person. Psychological distancing may help children overcome their current state to reason more accurately about the future.
    • Young Children Have Difficulty Predicting Future Preferences in the Presence of a Conflicting Physiological State: Conflicting State EFT

      Mahy, Caitlin (Wiley and Sons, 2016)
      This study examined children's predictions about their future preferences when they were in two different physiological states (thirsty and not thirsty). Ninety 3- to 7-year-olds were asked to predict what they would prefer tomorrow: pretzels to eat or water to drink after having consumed pretzels, and again after having had the opportunity to quench their thirst with water. Results showed that although children initially preferred pretzels to water at baseline, they more often indicated that they would prefer water the next day after they had consumed pretzels. After consuming water, however, the same children indicated they would prefer pretzels the next day. Children's verbal justifications for their choices rarely made reference to their current or future states, but rather justifications were more likely to make reference to their general preferences when they were no longer thirsty compared to when they were thirsty. Results suggest that current physiological states have a powerful influence on future preferences. The findings are discussed in the context of the development of episodic foresight, the Bischof-Kohler hypothesis, and the important and often overlooked role that children's current states play in future decision making.