Doubt cast on seminal marshmallow self-control study

Academics have thrown doubt on the conclusions of seminal research that linked preschool children’s self-control to their academic achievement and behaviour in later life.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Stanford University psychologist Walter Mischel examined delayed gratification in preschool children.

He gave them a treat such as a marshmallow, but told them they would receive a bigger treat if they delayed eating it for a short period of time.

Follow up research in 1990 showed that those children who had been able to exercise self-control and wait for the bigger reward had better exam results and socioemotional behaviour when they were teenagers.

The findings led to parents being encouraged to raise their children to exhibit self-control, in the hope of benefits later in life.

Read the full article in the Tes.


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