Self-control (those marshmallows again)

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Latest research from New Zealand demonstrates that childhood levels of self-control are clearly linked with outcomes later in life.

1,000 NZ children were assessed at 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 years of age and then interviewed at age 22.

Participants with poor self-control were more likely to become one-parent families, more likely to have credit and health problems, and more likely to have a criminal conviction. This was true even allowing for the effects of intelligence and social class.

  • In the top fifth – in terms of childhood self-control –  11% had serious adult health problems compared to 27% in the bottom fifth.
  • 13% of the top fifth were involved in a criminal offence compared with 43% of the bottom fifth.

Terrie Moffitt and her colleagues argue that this is a strong case for introducing universal self-control training into schools for children and adolescents. This would not carry the stigma of one-to-one interventions and would benefit everybody in society.

Source: February 2011 Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences

NB Marshmallows refers to Mischel’s famous experiment often cited in connection with emotional intelligence.

Here is another article about self-control with an embedded video showing 4-year olds using distraction to avoid eating the marshmallows.

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5 thoughts on “Self-control (those marshmallows again)

    Self-control (those marshmallows again) | ulearn2bu said:
    September 19, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    […] Participants with poor self-control were more likely to become one-parent families, more likely to have credit and health problems, and more likely to have a criminal conviction. This was true even allowing for the effec … Read More […]

    virtuos and beautiful said:
    September 19, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    This is amazing research. It makes parenting and teaching an even more important job in the community. Teaching ourselves and teaching our kids how to have self control to lead a more responsible life.

    Decision-making and bladder control « EI 4u said:
    December 5, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    […] Basically she got people to drink water as part of what they thought was a water-tasting experiment. Half the group were given full cups to drink while the other half only had sips. They were all then given 45 minutes of tests followed by an impulse control test similar to the famous marshmallows test. […]

    […] on the work of Walter Mischel (famous for the marshmallow experiments) and Roy Baumeister among others, the APA’s report on the research makes the case that […]

    Raisins and Marshmallows « Biz Psycho said:
    November 20, 2015 at 8:07 am

    […] He was exploring the idea of delayed gratification among school children. Basically he found that in long-term follow ups the children who could exercise self-control and delay eating the marshmallows did better in life. […]

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