1988: The children, now teenagers, who were better able to delay gratification in preschool show greater academic, emotional and social competence, including higher SAT scores.
1999: Mischel proposes a framework for willpower: a rational “know” system promotes self-control, and an emotional “go” system undermines it.
2005: At age seven children begin to understand being “of two minds,” called the Ulysses conflict. The Greek hero's conflicting desires led him to strap himself to his ship's mast so he could hear the Sirens’ song without succumbing to it.
2009: Failing to delay gratification at age four increases the risk of being overweight at age 11.
2011: The differences in Mischel's original subjects’ ability to resist temptation remain evident four decades later.
2012: A child's ability to exert self-control is also influenced by environment, a new study shows.
This article was originally published with the title A Marshmallow in the Hand.