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Mastering the art of self-control

Psychologist Walter Mischel discusses the science behind willpower

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10:00am, November 3, 2014
marshmallows

SWEET REWARDS  In a study, kids who waited for two marshmallows, instead of one right away, grew up to do better in school, get better jobs, maintain better physical health and feel better about themselves than their grab-and-go peers.

Columbia University psychologist Walter Mischel made his scientific mark by tempting children with marshmallows. For nearly 50 years, Mischel has studied whether kids would eat, say, one marshmallow right away or wait 20 minutes to receive two marshmallows. Kids who waited for double the goodies grew up to do better in school, get better jobs, maintain better physical health and feel better about themselves than their grab-and-go peers (SN: 10/8/11, p. 12). Science News talked to Mischel about his new book, The Marshmallow Test, which describes how self-control can be learned and applied to challenges ranging from losing weight to planning for retirement.

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