Fewer marshmallows, more success?
Children – and adults – can learn self control. The benefits are well-documented.
It’s been 50 years since Columbia psychology professor Walter Mischel invented the “marshmallow test”.
The test is deceptively simple. Place a cookie in front of a 5-year-old. Tell him or her if they can wait 15 minutes before eating the cookie (presumably with a marshmallow on it), they can have two. If not, they just get the one. A real lesson in self control.
The long-term results are surprising. As The New York Times recently reported, “Preschoolers who waited longest for the marshmallow went on to have higher SAT scores than the ones who couldn’t wait. In later years they were thinner, earned more advanced degrees, used less cocaine, and coped better with stress.”
In a new book, the 84-year-old Mischel has two additional messages: one, self-control can be taught, and two, adults can learn self control, too.
Read The New York Times summary of Mischel, the original test, and his new book.