Dr Lisa A. Leaver (University of Exeter)
Prof. Sarah Smith (University of Bristol)
Dr Tim W. Fawcett (University of Exeter)
An individual’s ability to inhibit a pre-potent response or “executive control”, often conceptualised as self-control, is an important aspect of cognitive flexibility and has been used as an assay of cognitive performance in a number of studies. Psychological studies of executive control often involve abstract tests in the laboratory to measure specific inhibition-of-response times across individuals. Executive control has been identified as an important factor in gambling and drug addiction, but the importance of executive control in less extreme behaviours has been largely overlooked. One such behaviour that is crucial for wellbeing and ensuring future security is investment behaviour, which necessarily entails planning for the future. Investment in the future can take many forms across species, and requires some degree of executive control because an individual needs to inhibit current use of an asset to store it away for a future which is, inevitably, uncertain.