The Marshmallow Test

Mastering Self-Control

by Walter Mischel

Number of pages: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

BBB Library: Psychology and Strengths

ISBN: 9780316230872

About the Author

Walter Mischel is an American psychologist specializing in personality theory and social psychology. He is the Robert Johnston Niven Professor of Humane Letters in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Mischel as the 25th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.


Editorial Review

The Marshmallow Test is an experiment where some children were observed to see when and how they become able to exert sufficient self-resistance to choose waiting for two marshmallows rather than having one right away. Resistance was very easy for some of them while it was very difficult for the others. It was found that the ability to resist temptation depends on some conditions and on the way each one thinks of the treat. They could cool hot temptation, delay gratification and achieve self-control by following mental processes and strategies. The children involved in the Marshmallow Experiment were followed up and information about them was collected several years after as adolescents and adults. Some connections between their behaviors in the experiment and how they fared later in life was suspected. Children who can resist the temptation remain high in self-control over the years. As adolescents, they can control themselves in frustrating situations, yield less to different kinds of temptation, less distractible when trying to concentrate, more intelligent, self-reliant, confident and trust their own judgment, and when under stress they never go into pieces. They think ahead and plan more and when motivated they were more able to pursue their goals. As adults, they were able to reach their goals, reach higher education levels and make money. They are happier and healthier.

Book Reviews

" The book provides several explanations for this phenomenon, including the possibility that the Marshmallow Test accesses characteristics, such as delay of gratification, that are related to developing positive social skills and performing well academically later on." - Psychology Today

"The Marshmallow Test is a wonderfully rich treat in itself, laden with advice and detailed research." - Scientific American

"To be human is to grapple with the will: this stimulating book encourages us to make mindful decisions. " - The Publishers Weekly

"The writing in The Marshmallow Test is crisp, clear, and engaging." - Brain Child Magazine

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Wisdom to Share

When our hot system makes us focus on the present temptation in life, there is no one to cue us to make the distant consequences hot and the immediate gratifications cool.

Self-Control and the ability to resist temptation is an acquirable cognitive skill that can be learned, modified and enhanced through specific cognitive strategies.

Self-Control and the ability to delay immediate gratification for the sake of future consequences, is very essential for a successful life.