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Make it snappy: Instant gratification and last-minute deal culture

We want it now! Here’s what some psychologists say about our tendency towards last-minute deals in a culture that rewards instant gratification.

instant gratification

instant gratification

But we want it now

Let’s face it: as a society we are just not wired to think about things in the long-term. We have too much to do, too many places to go, too many people to see and not enough time to do each very effectively! We want everything now, now, NOW! Granted, some things deserve to happen a lot quicker: long lines at airports, for example. Or visits with my mother-in-law. This sense of instant gratification is impacting our lives in every direction imaginable, from purchasing movie tickets, to ordering online and even buying our groceries or meals ready to eat.

Prof. Narayan Janakiraman, assistant marketing professor at the University of Texas, Arlington and who conducted a 2011 study called “The Psychology of Decisions to Abandon Waits for Service said, “The need for instant gratification is not new, but our expectation of what constitutes “instant” has become faster, and as a result, our patience is thinner…”

And you needed to conduct a survey to figure that out?

The silver lining

But I like to look at the plus side. The endless need for instant gratification does bear fruit. Some good does rise to the top as a result of our impatience. Namely we ARE figuring out how to do things quicker. Whether this is a good thing or not is entirely objective, but the concept of “last-minute” carries over into a myriad of areas: last minute bed space, last-minute travel deals, last-minute hotels, last minute tickets for a Broadway show.

It’s all about accomplishment

The trick is, in the opinion of those who conduct research like the study we just mentioned, is to reign in your impatience so you can actually accomplish something. There is a lot of satisfaction in knowing that you found a flight and hotel package to Belize for $700.00 or a suite at the Trump Towers for the price of a room at the EconoLodge.

What’s more, every dollar you save is a chance to apply those savings to something else that is meaningful in your life (and that you don’t have the patience to wait for).

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In our DNA

This inclination to not want to wait has been handed down to us since time eternal. That is the conclusion of New York psychologist Vivian Diller.

“We are biologically programmed to want instant gratification, and given a choice, adults still prefer it. Consequently, anything that provides a promise of immediate results is appealing and facilitates a sense of control and optimism.”

That said, we also accept the fact that there is no way to instantaneously raise our intelligence or achieve weight loss. No matter how impatient we are.

But that’s the culture we live in: instant gratification and the search for last minute deals. Where the wait is short and the return is great.


Written By

Nearly three decades living and working all over the world as a radio and television broadcast journalist in the United States Air Force, Staff Writer, Gary Picariello is now retired from the military and is focused on his writing career.

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