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If you make impulsive decisions it could be your parents' fault

It’s to do with a process called delay discounting.

Image: Joe Giddens

THE TENDENCY TO take a small short-term reward as opposed to larger long-term one could come from your parents.

The tendency is known as “delay discounting” and according to a report from the Washington University School of Medicine, it may be genetic.

In a study of 602 twins, Dr Andrey Anokhin and his team found that delay discounting gradually improves as teens get older, such that 18 year-olds have a greater ability or tendency to wait for the larger delayed reward, as compared to younger teens.

Apart from age, genetics also plays a role in whether a person will engage in delay discounting.

Some of the preliminary data suggest that these impulsivity genes may include gene coding for enzymes that synthesise the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is generally thought to be a contributor to good feelings within the brain.

While some believe that this could lead to gene-based therapy for addiction-related illnesses, Anokhin says “it is very early to link this speculation to a clinical application”.

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A slew of studies on the issue are ongoing, with one involving DNA analysis.

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