Imagination may be the key to patience, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. In their paper, forthcoming in Psychological Science, the authors detail how imagining an outcome, before acting on an impulse, may make you more patient.

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This technique is a cognitive bias called “framing effects,” which shows how making changes in the way something is presented may affect a person’s decision, according to a press release. Prior research on patience has focused on the role of willpower.

To understand how the framing effects work regarding patience and willpower, the researchers conducted two experiments. In the experiments, the participants were presented with either a “sequence” or “independent” frame.

Under the sequence frame, the participant could choose to accept $100 tomorrow and $0 a month from now, or $0 tomorrow and $120 in a month. Under the independent frame, the subjects had to accept $100 tomorrow or $120 in a month.

Participants who were presented with a sequence frame said they imagined the consequences more than those who were presented with an independent frame. Their self-reported imagination mimicked the results of the fMRI scans the researchers conducted during the experiments.

The scans illustrated that the area of the brain associated with imagination was more active during the sequence frame, whereas during the independent frame, the scans revealed more willpower was demonstrated.

"We know people often have difficulty being patient," said study author Adrianna Jenkins. "Our findings suggest that imagination is a possible route for attaining patience that may be more sustainable and practical than exerting willpower."

See also: Patience Is A Virtue: Impatient People Age At A Faster Rate Than Most

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