It’s amazing what you can learn from the Internet and YouTube. The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment leads us to believe it can. In 1972 a psychologist called Walter Mischel conducted an experiment with around 600 pre-school children. Individually the children were led into a plain room, devoid of any distractions, that had their choice of treat (Oreo cookie, marshmallow or pretzel) on a table by a chair. They were told that they could eat the treat and ring the bell at any time (signifying they had eaten it) or wait until the researcher returned, at which point they would be rewarded with a second of their chosen treat. Watching the children wait is quite an experience. Some cover their eyes with their hands, others tug their pigtails, some stroked the treat, as if they were caring of it, and some even start kicking the desk, while some turn away from the temptation.
A third of the children could delay their gratification long enough to get a second treat. This is interesting, but what is even more interesting is the follow up study, which showed that the child who would wait 15 minutes had an SAT score that was, on average, 210 points higher than that of the child who could wait only 30 seconds.
Our ability to delay gratification or to exercise self-control has a correlation with achievement.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)