Grim Necessities


A grim necessity is an activity with short-term negative consequences but long-term positive payoffs. For example, reading a boring textbook is unpleasant in the short term but rewarding in the long term, because it helps you get a good grade on the exam. Other commonly listed grim necessities are working at a boring job to make money and doing exhausting exercise for long-term fitness.


Dilemmas of self-control often present a contrast between immediate payoffs and delayed payoffs. According to Roger Giner-Sorolla, these dilemmas can be described either as delayed cost (guilty pleasure) or delayed benefit (grim necessity). His studies have shown that people associate different emotions with different types of consequences. In particular, when participants were asked for examples of activities with more negative short-term than ...

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