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Children with weak future planning are more likely to be involved in crime

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James Kiley
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flickr user: MIKI Yoshihito

If you were asked whether you d prefer to be given $140 today or $1400 in five years' time, the smart answer is obvious.

It can be easy to justify cheating your future self out of $1260 in the face of instant gratification.

Ideally, you need to find a way to test children s time discount rates, and then wait to see if they get involved in crime as adults and whether this tendency lasts past the adolescent crime peak .

Despite their caution about making causal claims, the researchers controlled for other factors that could be involved.

Children who said they would prefer to delay their reward were 33 percent less likely than average to have at least one criminal conviction.

The researchers think this points to time preference being very different from self control: where a lack of control might lead to crimes of passion, they suspect property crimes are more a case of planning to get a reward now despite future penalties.

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