Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Delayed Gratification

I'm really worn out at the moment, so I'm going to post a couple of short entries. For the curious, I write rough drafts for these ahead of time and the flesh them out later.

Recent research has shown that children who learn how to delay gratification are more successful in life. The following video talks about the Marshmallow Experiment originally done at Stanford University, its follow up research, and its replication in other countries.

The little girl the video clip ended with scares me a little. Not because of the fact she tried to trick the researchers by eating the inside of the marshmallow, but because she had such an intense reaction to wanting it. For a moment I was wondering what they had laced that marshmallow with, because she was acting like a heroin addict.

Anyway, back to the concept of delayed gratification. You know Aesop's fable about the Tortoise and the Hare. When you really think about it, it wasn't as much as the tortoise being slow and steady that gave him the race, as it was the Rabbit not delaying his gratifying nap that did.

On the flip side, youth who fell unsafe have trouble delaying gratification. I suspect that may be true for adults too, but the study focused on youths. If you thought you might die soon, there is less incentive to wait for a reward. In fact, there is less reason to play it safe, period, because it wouldn't matter in the long run.

No comments: