Something a little lighter this morning:
From Eat Me Daily, a
quirky and occasionally hilarious food blog, comes a video remake
of the classic "Marshmallow Test" first made famous by Stanford
University psychologists in the 1960s. The test is a basic measure
of self-control, but proves in video format to be equal parts
research and entertainment.
The basic premise is this: a child is given a marshmallow and a
bell and the researcher leaves the room. The child is told that if
her wants, he can ring the bell, the researcher will come back, and
he can eat the marshmallow. But if he waits for the researcher to
come back on her own, he'll get another marshmallow, for a grand
total of TWO marshmallows!
But as the blog notes, and has been proven by follow-up
analysis, this test is about more than self-control. It tests
reasoning, self-interest and logical processes -- no doubt all
bound to come in handy later in life, which may help explain why
kids who "passed" the original Stanford test (about 30 percent were
able to wait for the second marshmallow) were more successful later
Those who could wait 15 minutes had SAT scores that averaged 210
points higher than that of the kid who could wait only 30 seconds
before digging in. From a New Yorker article last May examining the
impact of the study's findings:
psychologists have focussed on raw intelligence as the most
important variable when it comes to predicting success in life.
[Stanley] Mischel, [the Stanford psychologist involved in the
original study] argues that intelligence is largely at the mercy of
self-control: even the smartest kids still need to do their
homework. "What we're really measuring with the marshmallows isn't
will power or self-control," Mischel says. "It's much more
important than that. This task forces kids to find a way to make
the situation work for them. They want the second marshmallow, but
how can they get it? We can't control the world, but we can control
how we think about it."
Predictor of future successes, or a hilarious moment captured in
time? No reason it can't be both...
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