Treatise on Achievement and Behavior

  • Forethought, the ability to plan and prepare for the future (preferring increased future benefits to immediate gratification), is closely related to the absence of impulsiveness.
  • When the savings rate of an individual is high, it indicates increased planning and willingness to defer gratification.  A low savings rate is more extreme for drug addicts and people with low IQ.
  • An individuals tendency towards immediate gratification is measureable.  In a classic experiment, individuals were offered a small candy bar now or a large one later; most chose the large one later.
  • The inability to defer gratification leads to renting instead of saving and buying, theft rather than working and waiting, and rape instead of courting and seduction.
  • The ability to plan ahead and defer gratification is critical to creating and maintaining a civilization, where the rights of others must be respected even if it means not getting something immediately when you want it.
  • All populations of all living things all over the planet, animal or plant, expand their numbers to meet the resources available.  (Populations that failed to do this simply went extinct long ago as the inevitable drops in numbers in bad times would not have been compensated for by increases in good times.)  This means that, a great deal of the time, every population bumps up against the limits of the carrying capacity of its territory or productive portion of society and, during those difficult times, there will be intense competition, physical conflicts, and starvation.  Only those individuals who are prepared for the bad times will survive them.
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