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The Process of Delaying Gratification

Project Description

The University of Bath is inviting applications for the following PhD project based in the School of Management under the supervision of Professor Avi Shankar (, Dr Timothy Hill ( and Dr Samuel Johnson (


Contemporary consumer culture promotes instant gratification. At the click of a button, consumers can obtain whatever their hearts desire, instantly.

In this context, why and how do some consumers actively delay their gratification?

This research will extend extant theory of delayed gratification that has a tendency to focus on outcomes rather than process. The aboriginal theory by the Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel was derived from an experiment using children and marshmallows. Children were told that if they could resist the temptation in front of them now, one marshmallow, they would get two in 20 minutes time. Some were able to delay temptation, while others ate the marshmallow as soon at the researcher left the lab. Subsequently, economists and psychologists have experimentally identified a bias for consumers to favour consumption now for rewards now, rather than consumption later for rewards later.

Drawing on sociological theory in addition to psychological theory, this research seeks to unpack the process of delay and to identify within this process how delay itself is a series of practices that, in and of themselves, can be source of gratification for some consumers.

This study’s context will be buying wine for personal consumption en primeur. This is a particular feature of the wine market in that the wine consumers buy wine whilst it’s still being made, often still in the cask, and not even in a bottle. The wine, once in the possession of the consumer, then has to be stored, often for a decade, before it’s ready to drink.

It is envisaged that a variety of methods (both CCT and consumer psychology) will be used to reflect the research interests of the supervisory team.


Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in a relevant discipline.

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form:

Please ensure that you quote the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Anticipated start date: 28 September 2020.

Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project will be considered for a University studentship, which will cover UK/EU tuition fees, a training support grant of £1,000 per annum and a tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate (£15,009 in 2019-20) for a period of up to 4 years. Limited funding opportunities for outstanding Overseas candidates may be available. Some School of Management studentships require recipients to contribute annually up to a maximum of 133 hours of seminar-based teaching and assessment in years 2, 3 and 4 of study (students will not be expected to give lectures).

How good is research at University of Bath in Business and Management Studies?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 64.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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