Motivation and emotion/Book/2022/Patience and impatience

Patience and impatience:
What are the psychological causes and consequences of patience and impatience?


This chapter discusses the psychology of patience and impatience. This chapter will discuss the psychological theories surrounding this phenomenon as the founders of positive psychology, the influencing factors that effect[grammar?] a person's patience levels as well as what psychological causes are behind this. It will discuss relevant research as well testing measure that are available treatment options while also covering professional psychological advice on what one may do to improve ones' patience levels as well as consequences of not managing one's impatience appropriately[grammar?][Rewrite to improve clarity].

Focus questions:

  • What are the Psychological theories surrounding patience and impatience?
  • What are the consequences of patience and impatience?
  • What are treatment options or self help options for those who struggle and are adversely affected by their levels of patience?

Definition of patience and impatienceEdit

[Provide more detail]

What is patience?Edit

Patience can be defined in a multitude of ways, [grammar?] the most popular definition is that patience is multifaceted and based on one’s ability to accept the inner and outer reality of a situation without feeling resentment or feeling restlessness or haste while maintaining hope and the ability to wait for the desired outcome (Akhtar, 2015).

What is impatience?Edit

Impatience is specific mental and physical process that can be triggered under certain circumstances, [grammar?] when feeling impatient an individual will often feel resentful of the situation, be unable to be positive while waiting for the desired outcome and will often show signs of irritability and restlessness. Impatience often leads to the individual choosing a different outcome with a shorter time span regarding gratification (Akhtar 2015).

Why does patience or impatience matter?Edit

Patience as a trait can have many benefits. These include improved mental health, better life satisfaction, positive emotions and even better relationships with others[factual?]. People who tend to be patient experience more empathy, high levels of wellbeing as well as positive social characteristics[factual?]. These make for a better quality of life, and this is something of the utmost importance. Life without quality is no life at all (Tajab, Madjid, & Hidayati 2019). Impatience on the other hand can have the opposite effect, for example a person with high levels of impatience is more likely to suffer I’ll[grammar?] health, poorer work performance and negatively influenced concentration levels (Barling, & Boswell, 1995). This can fluctuate based on a variety of personal issues or events however when taking these out of the equation people can be consistently patient or impatient with long term ramifications that may affect employment, health and personal aspects of one’s life.

Psychological theories and relevant history/researchEdit

Figure 1. Edward Deci - Positive Psychology Founder (Sheehan et al 2002)

There are many theories and views on why people feel impatient or patient or why emotions can change frequently between the two. In this section the major theories, history, past and current research will be discussed as well as critiqued.


[Provide more detail]

7 Laws of impatienceEdit

  1. Impatience is not a lack of patience; it is a particular mental and physical process that can be triggered under specific circumstances. It would be more accurate to say that patience is a "shadow term" signifying that there is a lack of impatience present.
  2. Impatience is triggered when a person has a goal or need that is going to take more time or significantly more costly than first anticipated.
  3. Impatience can motivate people to change the direction of goals or completely change goals in order to avoid exerting additional time, energy and resources.
  4. Impatience and indignation are a potent combination.
  5. People are more likely to experience impatience when more options are available to them.
  6. Impatience can be costly.
  7. Impatience can be beneficial. (psychologytoday N.D)[factual?]

Type A and B personality theoryEdit

Personality traits such as type A and Type B can be measured using the Myer-Briggs type indicator (MBTI). This test is one of the most widely used tests when assessing personality traits. This personality typology uses four pairs of contrasting traits to create a total of 16 personality patterns. This testing assesses a person's preferences regarding judgements and perceptions. The traits examined by this test are extraversion- introversion, sensing- intuition, thinking- feeling and judging- perceiving (Fretwell, Lewis & Hannay, 2013).

Type A personality patterns typically present traits such as highly competitive towards achievement, a strong sense of time urgency when completing tasks and persons with type A personalities tend to use aggression and hostility to cope with a situation that they find frustrating. People with type A personalities also tend to try and control their environment to high degrees, as well as tend to show high levels of ambition as well. Data also shows that these people tend to be hard working, set exceptionally high levels for themselves to achieve as well as set high career goals for themselves and aim to reach these goals in as shorter time span as possible (Fretwell et al, 2013).[What has this got to do with im/patience?]

Type B personality patterns tend to present traits such as people being easier going and relaxed. Basically, the opposite of type A personalities. Type B often results in more creativity, higher levels of patience, reduced feelings of pressure when faced with deadlines as well as no sense to rush and ability to manage stress more easily (, N.D).


[Provide more detail]

[What has this got to do with im/patience?]

Founders of positive psychologyEdit

Positive psychology as a specific subset of psychology is a relatively new part of psychology if looked upon from the first moment that it was introduced, however the aspects of positive psychology, minus the name has been around for many years. Psychologists and theorists have been investigating and focusing on the positives of human nature for decades, if not hundreds of years, from Maslow to Rogers and even Eric From, these men looked to the positives of human nature and, in some peoples, opinion created the gateway for Martin Seligman to create what we know today as "Positive Psychology" (Seligman, 2000).

The story of Martin Seligman's epiphany all started with his five-year-old daughter, she was trying to get her father's attention and he turned around, lost his temper and snapped at his daughter. His daughter asked him if he remembered when she was three and four and how much she used to whine, she then told him that she had decided when she turned five that she was not going to whine anymore and then she told her father "If I was able to stop whining then you are able to stop being a grouch". From this he saw the revelation of developing what is right, rather than developing what is wrong and decided that he was going to teach that we should look towards our strengths rather than our weaknesses, focus on the right rather than the wrong (Seligman, 2000).

Martin Seligman's aim was to create a specialization in Psychology, whom he had invested interest from the days of Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers who both focused on Humanistic psychology and to create something that looked to the good within people and within the world, at this time Psychology was not a recognized area of expertise where Seligman lived so he moved to the USA to create Positive Psychology's way into the world and show everyone that psychology does not have to be all about the negative, it isn't just the study of pathology, of mental illness, weakness or damage, psychology is so much more than this, it is about love, about compassion, about aspirations, hope, growth and enjoyment. His thought was if he focuses on the positives, we can work out how to prevent many adverse events, how to minimize the risk of mental illness. (Seligman, 2000).

Edward Deci (1970s)Edit

Edward Deci is an accomplished and revered psychological figure, he is responsible for the Self-determination theory, where the theory states that one's internal motivation is strongly correlated to the satisfaction with the following psychological needs- autonomy, competency and relatedness (Deci, et al 2021). This framework can help to understand extrinsic and intrinsic motivation as well as the factors that can undermine them and how these factors can influence people in a variety of settings (Ryan & Deci, 2020).

Deci has done incredible research into the history of motivational theories, starting from Charles Dawin's work on speculations regarding motivation and emotion to McDougall's Instinct theory to Woodworth's Instincts and interests, to B.F Skinners Operant conditioning and Albert Bandura's Behavioralist work (Ryan, Bradshaw & Deci, 2019).


Figure 2. Sarah Schnitker - Psychology of Patience (Schnitker, 2021)

[Provide more detail]

Sarah Schnitker (2012)Edit

Sarah Schnitker has based her career around patience and research into patience and how it correlates to one's well-being. During one of her studies[factual?], she completed 3 parts of on patience and well-being she measured three types of patience, interpersonal, life hardship and daily hassles patience in the first phase, in the second she examined goal pursuit and achievement mediated the relation between patience and wellbeing. The third was a training program that increased patience levels[Rewrite to improve clarity]. This all lead to an increase in [grammar?] patience of participants, decreased depression and an increased positive affect relative to a control condition, this suggested that patience may be a modifiable trait (Schnitker, 2012).

Sarah Schnitker's later work (Schnitker et al, 2016) tested adolescences'[grammar?] ability to regulate their emotions and patience levels in a study with a good population sample. This study involved 355 students, recruited from both public and private schools and randomly assigned the participants to one of three groups. The first group was the "Nondominant hand group" where participants were instructed to use their non dominant hand to complete all basic tasks for a week. The aim for this group was to improve their regulatory behavior and self-control. 52% of participants in this group were able to complete the weeklong test. The second group was assigned a "situation reappraisal condition" where participants were instructed to complete reappraisal exercises for frustrating experiences that they had experienced that day. The idea for this was to take the situation and reframe it in a more patient way. Within this group 73% of participants completed the exercises each day. The third group was assigned to "schedule tracking conditions". This group was instructed to record their activities for each 30-minute interval. The intention for this group was as a control group, with the condition not expected to affect self-control or patience within participants.

The results within this study showed that all participants showed[repeated word] increased levels of self-control and patience levels. The results were unsure regarding whether this was a placebo effort or whether the conditions truly altered self-control and patience. The advice was to repeat this study for more conclusive data.

Psychological causes and influencing factorsEdit

As with all emotions and motivations, there are numerous psychological causes involved in patience and impatience. In this section said [awkward expression?] causes as well as other influencing factors will be discussed and critiqued.

Figure 3. Big 5 Personality Traits (2019)

The Big 5 Personality TraitsEdit

[1] According to Kormaie et al (2015) [grammar?] the Big 5 personality traits can predict a person's level of patience or impatience. As noted on figure 3[grammar?]. There are five different traits on a sliding scale of low to high. Agreeableness and conscientiousness are clear indicators that scoring towards the high end of the spectrum is likely to result in a higher level of patience, [grammar?] a study by (Ghornbani & Khormaei, 2018) found exactly that. It showed that these were indicators of a positive correlation. The results showed those with higher scores also had higher levels of altruism and sympathy also[Rewrite to improve clarity]. This study also showed a correlation between high levels of neuroticism and high levels of impatience. This isn't unexpected as according to figure 3, high levels of neuroticism correlate with feeling anxious, unhappy as well as being prone to negative emotions.

Mental health and patienceEdit

[2] According to Bullbul et al, (2018) a person's wellbeing can directly influence their patience levels. Research shows that people who have a positive sense of wellbeing tend to have more patience in any given situation compared to someone who is wellbeing is not as well off. It has been stated that higher levels of patience create a buffer of sorts regarding difficult situations and persons with higher levels of patience tend to be able to cope better in difficult situations and whilst under pressure. Impatience however[grammar?] can be detrimental to a person's wellbeing, the inability to cope in a constructive way can lead to poorer mental health states, create issues within personal, community or professional relationships and can even create legal issues when it comes to aspects of impatience turning into abuse, physical altercations, road rage or other similar outcomes (Naveteur et al, 2013)[Rewrite to improve clarity].

When patience levels have been detrimental to wellbeingEdit

As with any adverse emotion [grammar?] patience levels have the ability to be detrimental to a person's wellbeing. The affected person is often experiencing these adverse effects, whilst others may also experience adverse effects also. Further down in "case studies" real world examples will be discussed in depth regarding situations where patience levels have caused adverse situational outcomes.


Studies have investigated the influence impatience may have on a multitude of situation[grammar?]. One of these is the effect or influence parental impatience plays regarding child abuse (Justice & Justice, 1982) [grammar?] studies show there is a possible correlation between a parent's patience levels and child abuse, with more impatient parents having abused their child. Another form of abuse directly influenced by patience levels is elder abuse. Elder abuse is not as well-known as child abuse however the consequences can be just as devastating. Elder abuse can involve physical abuse, psychological or emotional abuse or neglect. Research has shown that [grammar?] a big contributing factor involved in elder abuse is the abusers[grammar?] mental state, patience levels and frustration levels. Majority of the abusers tend to exhibit high levels of impatience and frustration (Machado, Gomes & Xavier, 2001)

Mental healthEdit

On the surface one may think that one's patience levels may not have a big influence on one's mental health however this is not necessarily the case. High levels and often feelings of frustration and impatience can dramatically affect one's quality of life as we as mental health status. One's impatience can also be a side effect of one's mental illness. For example, a person who is highly anxious or has PTSD, BPD or depression to name some, may show signs of irritability or impatience when in reality it is their mental health issue manifesting in an outward display of impatience or hostility (Van Puttin, 1975). A study by (Day, 2005) investigated the emotional intelligence irrespective of personality types was a fairly straight forward way of moderating ability to regulate one's emotions, including patience levels. This study showed that while individuals are emotionally healthy, they tend to be better prepared to deal with stressful or time consuming and impatience inducing situations. This study also showed that the opposite is true, participants who lacked emotional intelligence had trouble regulating their patience levels and reported feelings of irritability and impatience on a more frequent basis.

Psychological testing and diagnosis's[grammar?]Edit

This section will discuss different testing methods and what diagnosis's[grammar?] may be authorized when a patient has a history of adverse patience levels.

Testing options and typesEdit

There are several testing options, [grammar?]the first are personality type testing. For example, "The big 5 personality traits" testing can predict the levels of patience one may have. People who score high on Neuroticism are more likely to be impatient compared to someone who scores low on the neuroticism scale (Kormaie et al, 2015).

Another incredibly popular option for testing a person's impatience or patience levels is the Myer-Briggs type indicator test. This particular test assesses a person to determine whether they are a type A personality or whether they are a type B personality. As discussed earlier a person with a type A personality are more likely to be hardworking, detail orientated person who tends to thrive on order and obtaining the best results. This personality type is more likely to show high levels of impatience (Fretwall et al, 2013).

Other forms of tests are available to diagnose preexisting mental health conditions, [grammar?] while these are not specific tests for patience levels, they do assist in diagnosing underlying conditions that may cause people to be impatient. Tests from a persons'[grammar?] general practitioner, psychologist, specialist or psychiatrist can be utilized for this and include the following:

  • psychological assessment
  • neuropsychological assessment
  • psychoeducational test
  • psychological measurements
  • mental illness screenings
  • inventories

(Jensen-Doss & Hawley, 2011)

How diagnoses are made and why this is importantEdit

Diagnosis for mental health disorders are made via a medical professional. Diagnosis for patience or impatience can usually be self-diagnosed however with self-diagnosis's[grammar?] there is always the risk of bias being present. As with any condition, a diagnosis can lead to treatment options being made available to a person (Jensen-Doss & Hawley, 2011)

Treatment optionsEdit

As with most adverse psychological issues, impatience can be improved with psychological intervention. This section will discuss these options and the effect they can have on patience and impatience and the related causes and consequences already discussed.

Medication treatmentEdit

Medication is available for people where impatience is a side effect of a mental health condition such as depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, anxiety or panic disorder amongst other disorders. Medication is not available to people who are impatient without a subsequent medical condition (Jensen-Doss & Hawley, 2011).

Non medication treatmentEdit

There are therapies available for both people with impatience as a side effect of a mental health condition as well as for people who are simply impatient. For persons who tend to show impatience as a result of a mental health condition there are a multitude of therapies that can assist in regulating emotions as well as create coping strategies for situations that may create feelings of anxiety or panic and result in reduced levels of patience.

Sarah Schnitker (2016) has tested treatments that had shown to be effective in increasing one's patience levels, Dr Katiah Llerena (2017) published a guide on how one can cope with impatience, either alone or with the help of a professional. Her first step is an obvious one, awareness. In order to be able to make changes one has to be aware that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. During this her advice is to assess what situations lead to impatience and if there are any particular triggers. The next step is to assess the degree in which one is impaired, for example are relationships impaired as a result of the impatience? After this the advice is to determine to what degree does impatience effect[grammar?] one's emotional functioning and finally to assess whether the associated thoughts revolve around whether or not that one believes the others around lack competence.

The second step is to make a plan on how one can make changes to become a more patient being. Dr Llerena has several tips for this, they are as follows:

  • Take slow, deep breaths and count to 10. This can help to relax one's body as well as slow one's heart rate.
  • Scan one's body to allow for muscles to relax as when one is impatient often muscles will tense.
  • Actively change one's thoughts. Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy can be extremely useful in order to develop ways to adapt better to situations.
  • Use coping statements
  • Accept that not everything is within one's control
  • Use mindful techniques
  • Keep up hydration and food intake.

Learning featuresEdit

Case studiesEdit

Fostering patience in the classroom- A case study [1]

The above case study investigated the intertemporal choices made by children. The aim was to improve abilities within the children as well as investigate what incentives are beneficial when increasing patience within children. The results showed that participants in the incentivized groups were more likely to have an increase in patience levels and that these levels stayed raised for 3 years following (Alan, 2018)

An examination of patience and wellbeing [2]

This case study was conducted in order to test the hypothesis that patience and self-control are character strengths and are predictive of developmental outcomes. This study involved students selected to be one of three groups, the first group was to do certain activities with their non dominant hand, the second group was to do reappraisal exercises daily and the third group was asked to write down their daily activities in thirty-minute intervals. The third group was used as a control group as researchers did not expect for those conditions to change patience levels. The results showed that all three groups showed improved signs of patience.


There are several theories used to explore patience and impatience. The most popular theories include the seven laws of impatience where it was discovered that impatience is not the opposite of patience, and that people are more likely to be impatient when they have several options available to them. This chapter also explored type A and type B personality where type A individuals are more likely to show impatience compared to persons who have type B personality traits (Fretwell et al, 2013). Different types of personality testing can be used with two of the most popular being the big five personality test as well as the Myer-Briggs type indicator.

Impatience can have numerous negative repercussions which include abuse towards children, elder abuse as well as road rage, physical altercations and many more adverse consequences. These can be rather extreme and have the potential to have long term repercussions. Edward Deci's epiphany regarding the inspiration regarding his daughter was discussed as well medical treatment that is available for people whos' impatience is due to mental health reasons as well as non-medication treatments for persons who do not have underlying medical issues that cause an increase in impatience.

See alsoEdit

[Use bullet-points] Motivation and emotion/Book/2018/Elder abuse motivation

OToPS/Measures/Big Five Inventory

Motivation and emotion/Book/2020/Basic psychological need theory

OToPS/Measures/Myers Briggs Type Indicator


Akhtar, S. (2015). Patience. Psychoanalytic Review, 102(1), 93-122.

Alan, S., & Ertac, S. (2018). Fostering patience in the classroom: Results from randomized educational intervention. Journal of Political Economy, 126(5), 1865-1911. Barling, J., & Boswell, R. (1995). Work Performance and the Achievement—Strivings and Impatience—Irritability Dimensions of Type A Behaviour. Applied Psychology, 44(2), 143-153.

Bullbul, A., & Izgar, G. (2018). Effects of the Patience training program on Patience and well-being levels of University Students. Journal of Education and Training Studies, 6(1), 2324-8068. doi:10.11114/jets.v6i1.2900 Chicago

Fretwell, C. E., Lewis, C. C., & Hannay, M. (2013). Myers-briggs type indicator, A/B personality types, and locus of control: where do they intersect?. American Journal of Management, 13(3), 57-66.

Jensen-Doss, A., & Hawley, K. M. (2011). Understanding clinicians’ diagnostic practices: Attitudes toward the utility of diagnosis and standardized diagnostic tools. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 38(6), 476-485.10.1007/s10488-011-0334-3`14

Justice, B., & Justice, R. (1982). Clinical approaches to family violence: I. Etiology of physical abuse of children and dynamics of coercive treatment. Family Therapy Collections, 3, 1–20.

Kormaie, F., Farmani, A. (2015). Surveying the Role of Big Five Personality Factors in Prediction of Patience and its Components in Students. Clinical Psychology and Personality, 12(2), 11-24.

Llerena, K., 2022. How to Cope with Impatience. [online] Dr. Katiah Llerena, PhD. Available at: <,6%20Being%20mindful.%20...%207%20Fueling%20yourself.%20> [Accessed 16 October 2022].

Machado, L., Gomes, R., & Xavier, E. (2001). Report on elder abuse in Brazil. World Health Organization, International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, Institute of Gerontology Candido Mendes University.

Naveteur,J., Cœugnet,S., Charron,C., Dorn,L., & Anceaux,F.Impatience and time pressure: Subjective reactions of drivers in situations forcing them to stop their car in the road, Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour Volume 18,2013,Pages 58-71,ISSN 1369-8478,

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2020). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation from a self-determination theory perspective: Definitions, theory, practices, and future directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 61, 101860. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2020.101860

Ryan, R. M., Bradshaw, E., & Deci, E. L. (2019). Motivation. In R. Sternberg & W. Pickren, The Cambridge handbook of the intellectual history of psychology (pp. 391-411). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781108290876.016

Ryan, R. M., Deci, E. L., Vansteenkiste, M., & Soenens, B. (2021). Building a science of motivated persons: Self-determination theory’s empirical approach to human experience and the regulation of behavior. Motivation Science, 7(2), 97-110. doi: 10.1037/mot0000194

Schnitker, S. (2012) An examination of patience and well-being, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 7:4, 263-280, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2012.697185

Schnitker, S. (2021, December 22). The Psychology of Patience: YCFC. Yale Center for Faith and Culture | at Yale Divinity School. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from

Seligman, M., & Csíkszentmihályi, M. (2000). Positive psychology. An introduction. The American psychologist, 55 1, 5-14 .

Sheehy, Noel; Chapman, Antony J.; Conroy, Wendy A. (2002). Biographical Dictionary of Psychology. ISBN 9780415285612. Retrieved 4th October 2022

Tajab, M., Madjid, A., & Hidayati, M. (2019). Psychology of patience in al-MisbĀh exegesis. Humanities & Social Sciences Reviews, 7(5), 1221-1230.

Van Putten, T. (1975). The many faces of akathisia. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 16(1), 43-47.(2019, May 31). Infographic : The Big 5 Personality Traits [aka, the 5 Factor Model (FFM) || "OCEAN" (or CANOE... - | s, Infographics, Job offers. Home of Advertising Professionals, Advertising new.



External linksEdit

  1. Surveying the Role of Big Five Personality Factors in Prediction of Patience and its Components in Students (
  2. ERIC - EJ1166060 - Effects of the Patience Training Program on Patience and Well-Being Levels of University Students, Journal of Education and Training Studies, 2018-Jan