Thursday, May 21, 2009

Child’s Ability to Delay Gratification is a Predictor of Future Success, Higher SAT Scores By 200 Points

In the late 1960s, Stanford University conducted an experiment on young childrens' self-control and ability to delay gratification. Researchers would give young children a choice: the child could either eat one marshmallow right away or, if he or she was willing to wait while the researcher stepped out of the room for a few minutes, the child could have two marshmallows when the researcher returned. If the children rang a bell on the desk the researcher would come running back, and the child could eat one marshmallow but would forfeit the second.

Most of the children struggled to resist the treat and held out for an average of less than three minutes. About 30% of the children successfully delayed gratification until the researcher returned, some fifteen minutes later. These kids wrestled with temptation but found a way to resist.

An analysis of the results showed that the children who rang the bell quickly, seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home. They got lower S.A.T. scores. They struggled in stressful situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships. The child who could wait fifteen minutes had an S.A.T. score that was, on average, 210 points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds.

~The New Yorker

16 Comments:

At 5/21/2009 2:42 PM, Blogger Trevre said...

You didn't ring the bell, did you Mark?

Only a researcher would make the treat a marshmallow. Lame.

 
At 5/21/2009 3:29 PM, Blogger Marko said...

I will respond to this post tomorrow.

 
At 5/21/2009 4:24 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

I wonder which group turned out to be prone to obesity. The one marshmallow group or the two? Maybe the one marshmallow kids were just healthy eaters!

 
At 5/21/2009 5:03 PM, Blogger Robert Miller said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/21/2009 5:41 PM, Anonymous Dr. T said...

Hardly surprising. Kids who lack patience and will power don't learn as well. When faced with a challenge (math problem, science concept, poem interpretaton, etc.), they give up if they don't get the answer in a few minutes. I've seen it in the work world, too, where some workers do not have the patience and persistence to learn a new task. This is one reason why some employers liked to give personality tests. The impatient ones who want instant gratification aren't hired.

 
At 5/21/2009 11:03 PM, Blogger QT said...

While in general, I would have to agree with the study, there are notable exceptions such as Frank Lloyd Wright.

Deserting a wife and 5 children for another man's wife is as self-gratifying as it gets yet Wright remains the most brilliant architect in U.S. history warts and all.

 
At 5/22/2009 1:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the child prefered ringing bells to eating marshmallows - would that prove anything?

 
At 5/22/2009 1:56 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...

This is one reason why some employers liked to give personality tests. The impatient ones who want instant gratification aren't hired.
However, the ones that still use them today aren't really screening for good candidates, just "compliant" ones.

 
At 5/22/2009 6:49 AM, Blogger 1 said...

"the ones that still use them today aren't really screening for good candidates, just "compliant" ones"...

Who says good employees aren't compliant?

 
At 5/22/2009 9:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marko, it is tomorrow. Where is my marshmallow?

 
At 5/22/2009 9:22 AM, Blogger Robert Miller said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/26/2009 11:58 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/26/2009 12:00 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

How much work is it, really, to fix such an obvious and repeatable bug as eating carriage returns following an HTML tag? Not much. blogger programmers are incompetent idiots.

===============

> yet Wright remains the most brilliant architect in U.S. history warts and all.

QT: I believe there are people who would argue with you about the superlative claim but certainly he was among the best.

Some of the obvious counterarguments (in case anyone is interested) would include:

Louis Sullivan.
I. M. Pei.
Louis Kahn.


Not saying I concur with any of those, but they have their proponents.

 
At 5/26/2009 12:02 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Mark, I'd like to see how much it tied to future success, independent of the SAT scores. Those are certainly relevant, but I'd lay odds that it was an even better connective than SAT perrformance.

 
At 5/27/2009 12:10 AM, Blogger Mita said...

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At 5/30/2009 3:28 AM, Blogger ZWH said...

The Real Question Is? If you have a impatient kid, how do you train him to be patient.

I am only looking for solutions, cuz I have a kid as impatient as myself...not that it has been bad for me but, I understand the concept.

 

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