The Marshmallow Experiments
In the late 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel performed a series of tests on young, pre-school children intended to measure their ability to delay gratification or otherwise exert self control. These experiments later became known as the ‘marshmallow experiments.’ The idea was simple. He left a succession of 4-year-olds in a room with a bell and a marshmallow. If they rang the bell, he would come back and they could eat the marshmallow. If, however, they didn't ring the bell and waited for him to come back on his own, they could then have two marshmallows.
The long term results were astounding. Not only were youngsters who were able to delay their gratification much more successful in life and able to avoid problems and issues that undermine success, they had higher SAT scores. It turns out the ability to invest oneself or delay gratification is helpful in all sorts of situations; it lessens the chances of teen pregnancy, abets sitting through boring classes to get a degree, and learning a skill at an ‘A’ level rather than settling for a ‘C’, and on and on.