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Psychologist Walter Mischel, designer of the Marshmallow Test, explains what self-control is and how to master it. A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behavior later in life? The world's leading expert on self-control, Walter Mischel has proven that Psychologist Walter Mischel, designer of the Marshmallow Test, explains what self-control is and how to master it. A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behavior later in life? The world's leading expert on self-control, Walter Mischel has proven that the ability to delay gratification is critical for a successful life, predicting higher SAT scores, better social and cognitive functioning, a healthier lifestyle and a greater sense of self-worth. But is willpower prewired, or can it be taught? In The Marshmallow Test, Mischel explains how self-control can be mastered and applied to challenges in everyday life—from weight control to quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement. With profound implications for the choices we make in parenting, education, public policy and self-care, The Marshmallow Test will change the way you think about who we are and what we can be.


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Psychologist Walter Mischel, designer of the Marshmallow Test, explains what self-control is and how to master it. A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behavior later in life? The world's leading expert on self-control, Walter Mischel has proven that Psychologist Walter Mischel, designer of the Marshmallow Test, explains what self-control is and how to master it. A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behavior later in life? The world's leading expert on self-control, Walter Mischel has proven that the ability to delay gratification is critical for a successful life, predicting higher SAT scores, better social and cognitive functioning, a healthier lifestyle and a greater sense of self-worth. But is willpower prewired, or can it be taught? In The Marshmallow Test, Mischel explains how self-control can be mastered and applied to challenges in everyday life—from weight control to quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement. With profound implications for the choices we make in parenting, education, public policy and self-care, The Marshmallow Test will change the way you think about who we are and what we can be.

30 review for The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amir Tesla

    “The intelligent desire self-control; children want candy.” (Rumi) The subject: This delicate book, wraps up the latest findings on self-control and willpower, the line of study which was initiated in 1960 by the author "Walter Mischel". The book: This is the fifth book I've read about self-control and willpower, so it would be natural not expect much new insights. I was wrong. This book actually enhanced, perfected and debugged many of the ideas I'd read in previous books. Self-control is the si “The intelligent desire self-control; children want candy.” (Rumi) The subject: This delicate book, wraps up the latest findings on self-control and willpower, the line of study which was initiated in 1960 by the author "Walter Mischel". The book: This is the fifth book I've read about self-control and willpower, so it would be natural not expect much new insights. I was wrong. This book actually enhanced, perfected and debugged many of the ideas I'd read in previous books. Self-control is the single most important factor that can be measured early in childhood and virtually predicts the child's fortune in his/her years to come. Bad news is the default efficiency of one's willpower is determined by his/her genes and the nurturing environment between ages of 1 to 6. The good news is that this default willpower is malleable and can be cultivated through education and practice. What you will learn: In short, this book adds a new weapon to your arsenal for the battle against temptations. Do you want to know how to readily resist the temptation for the cheesecake in front of you? Do you want to know how to suppress the temptation for lighting your next cigarette? How about saving your marriage and not indulging in an infidelity? Well, you're gonna be equipped with the knowledge, and techniques to win the war of resistance in this book. Weapons: Now let's look at some of the weapons you can use in the war of temptation: 1. Cool VS Hot: Whenever facing a tempting situation, like a piece of cake you want to avoid, there are two aspects to the situation, Hot and cold. The desirable attributes of the cake, its sweetness, taste, smell, look constitute the hot dimension and thinking in this hot manner, makes you crave more and more till you indulge. On the other hand, you could imagine the cake in a cool manner, for instance, you can imagine it being a picture, or even you can turn the delicious, yummy cake into a disgusting object by visualizing it, for example, to be filled with cockroaches. In essence: The power is not in the stimulus, however, but in how it is mentally appraised: if you change how you think about it, its impact on what you feel and do changes, The tempting chocolate mousse on the restaurant dessert tray loses its allure if you imagine a cockroach just snacked on it in the kitchen 2. Disassociate yourself: Whenever facing a hard situation (resisting a temptation or suffering a break up) imagin watching yourself from the eyes of another person. This way you shif the gears of your thoughts to a higher, cooler and more logical cognitive thinking. 3. Three stages of self-control: In all the self-control tactics, there exist three stages: First, you have to remember and actively keep in mind your chosen goal (if you eat the cake, you won't get fit). Second, you have to monitor your progress toward your goal and make the necessary corrections by shifting your attention and cognitions flexibly between goal-oriented thoughts and temptation=reducing techniques. Third, you have to inhibit impulsive responses like thinking about how appealing the temptations were or reaching out to touch them, that woyld prevent you from attaining your goal. 4. It all comes down to expectation: Till now, it was believed that for instance performing mentally-demanding tasks would lead to decision fatigue (running out of willpower). But now, it's discovered that it all comes down to your expectation, if you expect to get tired after a workout, you'll be tired, and if you expect to get energized after solving a math puzzle, you will be... 5. Your future self If you vividly imaging your future self with your desired goal (being fit, not smoking etc.) and emotionally get engaged with this future picture of yours, you will far more likely to stay commited to your resolutions. To be completed ...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Candace

    What can I say about this one? It definitely isn't my usual type of book, as I prefer entertainment over enlightenment any day. That being said, it was interesting in the beginning and periodically throughout the book there were case studies that caught my attention. The downside was that there was very little practical guidance offered. It read like a scientific literature review on self-control. Not surprisingly, young children that are able to delay gratification in exchange for a larger rewa What can I say about this one? It definitely isn't my usual type of book, as I prefer entertainment over enlightenment any day. That being said, it was interesting in the beginning and periodically throughout the book there were case studies that caught my attention. The downside was that there was very little practical guidance offered. It read like a scientific literature review on self-control. Not surprisingly, young children that are able to delay gratification in exchange for a larger reward later, exhibit greater success later in life with matters that require sacrifices and self-denial now for long-term gains later. I didn't find this to be the least bit surprising, although the review of case studies was interesting at times. Overall, it was a dry, tedious read for me. This is probably more of a reflection of my personal preferences than it is for this book. If you're a fan of non-fiction, self-help type of books, you might enjoy this one. I enjoyed it at first, but it quickly became repetitive and tiresome for me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    This is a well written book, but it did not influence my self control. I thought that the information was displayed in an interesting and simple format and I enjoyed how the author attempted to get points across with real life stories. I picked up this book hoping it would help me learn better self control techniques, and while The Marshmallow Test did cover this, it mainly focused on the effects of biology when it came to self control, and a large part was about how to rear your child to have be This is a well written book, but it did not influence my self control. I thought that the information was displayed in an interesting and simple format and I enjoyed how the author attempted to get points across with real life stories. I picked up this book hoping it would help me learn better self control techniques, and while The Marshmallow Test did cover this, it mainly focused on the effects of biology when it came to self control, and a large part was about how to rear your child to have better self control. I felt that the tips for adults were nothing more than common sense. If you have a scientific interest in self control than I think this is a worthwhile read, but if you're looking for a book to help you achieve personal goals with control techniques I would keep looking. 3.5/5 Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    This book holds a wonderfully invigorating message: new research has proven that we are not prisoners to nature, nor to nurture. If we want to, we can change those most stubborn attributes of willpower and fear. Our life situation may not have set us up to be college graduates, financially stable, healthy, or heroes, but we still can be. We decide. We are capable. The Marshmallow Test does not give you a thirty day plan to achieving your dreams. It does not provide recipes or an exercise regimen This book holds a wonderfully invigorating message: new research has proven that we are not prisoners to nature, nor to nurture. If we want to, we can change those most stubborn attributes of willpower and fear. Our life situation may not have set us up to be college graduates, financially stable, healthy, or heroes, but we still can be. We decide. We are capable. The Marshmallow Test does not give you a thirty day plan to achieving your dreams. It does not provide recipes or an exercise regimen. It gives you the tools to create positive change, and it is up to you to use them.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jonna Higgins-Freese

    Wow. This was about as fluffy as you can get. There were a few useful tips in the last chapter regarding making your future/final goal "hot" or real to you, and your current need to refrain "cold" by using strategies to think of other things, but that was it. I felt that the summaries of this research I'd read elsewhere were about as useful as this book. 5.20.2015 update: Since I read the book, I came across an interesting critique: that there are kids who live in chaotic homes where there may be Wow. This was about as fluffy as you can get. There were a few useful tips in the last chapter regarding making your future/final goal "hot" or real to you, and your current need to refrain "cold" by using strategies to think of other things, but that was it. I felt that the summaries of this research I'd read elsewhere were about as useful as this book. 5.20.2015 update: Since I read the book, I came across an interesting critique: that there are kids who live in chaotic homes where there may be abuse, drug use, poverty, etc. For those kids, the smart/functional thing to do may be to eat the marshmallow right away, because a marshmallow you've eaten is worth two you're promised in the future -- the one in your mouth is the only one you can be assured of getting. The suggestion was that what this test actually tests is whether the kids grew up in stable homes where they could reliably trust what adults promised. And, therefore, the associations with future success are more reflective of initial SES than anything related to personal grit. Useful. Wish I could remember where I read it -- anyone know? 8.5.2018 update: From Scientific American's Antigravity column this month: "The new study, 'Revisiting the marshmallow Test: A Conceptual Replication Investigating Links between Early Delay of Gratification and Later Outcomes,' released May 25 online in _Psychological Science_, tested 10 times as many youngsters as the original research. And it found a much smaller association between delaying gratification and how the children turned out. the work also discovered a connection between higher family income and short-term self-control. Perhaps the rich kids showed up for the test stuffed."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Shog Al Maskery

    This is a book I really enjoyed from cover to cover. It helped me understand how we thought as children and how nature and nurture play a part in who we are today. It’s the book I wanted to finish but never wanted to end. Highly recommended!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bonny

    It is a bit ironic and telling that while reading The Marshmallow Test, I wanted Dr. Mischel to cut to the chase and just give me the tips and tricks that would enable me to gain more self-control. Even if I currently lack patience as an adult and probably would have been one of the children that wanted one marshmallow right now, he has written a book that gives me hope along with plenty of scientific explanation that self-control is a skill that I can develop, nurture and practice. I think the It is a bit ironic and telling that while reading The Marshmallow Test, I wanted Dr. Mischel to cut to the chase and just give me the tips and tricks that would enable me to gain more self-control. Even if I currently lack patience as an adult and probably would have been one of the children that wanted one marshmallow right now, he has written a book that gives me hope along with plenty of scientific explanation that self-control is a skill that I can develop, nurture and practice. I think the author does an excellent job of explaining what self-control is, where it is warranted, instances where it may be more appropriate not to delay gratification, and what we might gain in our lives if we are able to better hone our willpower. As every science and statistics student has learned, correlation does not imply causation, and Dr. Mischel gives a well-reasoned explanation of what the ability to delay gratification may be correlated with. The reader is left with a clear understanding that waiting to get two marshmallows later instead of gobbling one immediately does not cause an easy and worry-free life! As other reviewers have stated, this is not a self-help book with a series of steps to be followed, but it is thoughtful and thought-provoking writing from the man who has spent his life researching self-control and provided us with the tools he has discovered.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Christian Allen

    A book with far too much fat in need of trimming, this 300 pager could have been half that length or less. Unremarkable findings are presented as the latest and greatest in neuroscience and wrapped in psychobabble. If you're looking for a cute story of the original test at Stanford and some vague suggestions on enhancing self control this is your book. If you're looking for a to-the-point message and a how to guide backed by real data look elsewhere. A book with far too much fat in need of trimming, this 300 pager could have been half that length or less. Unremarkable findings are presented as the latest and greatest in neuroscience and wrapped in psychobabble. If you're looking for a cute story of the original test at Stanford and some vague suggestions on enhancing self control this is your book. If you're looking for a to-the-point message and a how to guide backed by real data look elsewhere.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Candle

    The marshmallow experiment was a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s by psychologist Walter Mischel, this book shows the experiment Of this studies . ‏ The marshmallow test begin by offering the child a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned. And of course some of the children didn’t wait and other where more patient so they The marshmallow experiment was a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s by psychologist Walter Mischel, this book shows the experiment Of this studies . ‏ The marshmallow test begin by offering the child a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned. And of course some of the children didn’t wait and other where more patient so they received an extra marshmallow , the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by Sat Scores , educational attainment,(BMI),and other life measures. I may ask my self what would i do if I were in the child position . #Done #WalterMischel #MarshmallowTest #أبجدية_فرح 3/5 ‏ ‏ ‏ ‏ ‏ ‏

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amirography

    Mind provoking book! This book is absolutely essential to read for everyone. The author is a well known psychologist whose his work has been misunderstood widely by even psychologists. Which is pitty. I enjoyed and used the material of this book, daily. I will re-read this book in the future as it is a great source of strategies to self-control.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ali Sattari

    Fascinating read, I didn't expect to read such fundamental facts on will power, executive function and their broad effect on our various traits. I think I would read this at least once more, just to be sure I've absorbed the most! Fascinating read, I didn't expect to read such fundamental facts on will power, executive function and their broad effect on our various traits. I think I would read this at least once more, just to be sure I've absorbed the most!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    You know that willpower you are trying to employ to resist that extra dessert? I have bad news for you. The ability to resist temptation was already determined within your personality by the time you attended preschool. But before you throw in the towel and say, "I knew it. This effort is hopeless," I have more news for you. Self-control skills, both cognitive and emotional, can be learned, enhanced, and harnessed so that they become automatically activated when you need them. So put down that c You know that willpower you are trying to employ to resist that extra dessert? I have bad news for you. The ability to resist temptation was already determined within your personality by the time you attended preschool. But before you throw in the towel and say, "I knew it. This effort is hopeless," I have more news for you. Self-control skills, both cognitive and emotional, can be learned, enhanced, and harnessed so that they become automatically activated when you need them. So put down that cupcake and stop blaming your biology, your parents, and/or your cultural upbringing! This book is divided into 3 parts. Though the first part (focusing primarily on the ability to delay gratification and how it develops) is interesting, the book didn't become "real" for me until about half way through Part II when the author began to offer specific strategies that have been successfully used -- both with adults and with children -- to build self-control skills. In fact, some of the strategies were very similar to techniques that therapists use to build functional "emotional regulation" skills in children with autism (who often have a very hard time saying "no" to their immediate desires). At this point, I began marking pages for re-reading and reference so that I could incorporate the strategies that were new to me into my occupational therapy sessions. So, the take-away for this book: If you like reading about the psychology of human development, you may enjoy it. If you work with children who have self-regulation problems, you may find it useful. If you are DETERMINED to improve your own self-control, you will possibly find some useful advice and definitely find some useful strategies, IF you put them into practice. (Ah, and there's the rub -- motivation has to be strong, and motivation can be very hard to come by in the middle of a pandemic when sweatpants are the fashion of the day and cupcakes on the counter look so much more tempting than carrots in the fridge. Just ask me -- I've gained 10 pounds during my extended quarantine!)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    This is an interesting book on self control. It starts by explaining the principles behind the "Marshmallow Test' where a child is offered a treat that they can take now, or if they are prepared to wait for a short period of time then the proffered treat will increased. This simple test gives psychologists a tool to predict how a individual will behave much later in life and how successful they will be. Mischel then expands into other studies on behaviour that he has been involved in and covers s This is an interesting book on self control. It starts by explaining the principles behind the "Marshmallow Test' where a child is offered a treat that they can take now, or if they are prepared to wait for a short period of time then the proffered treat will increased. This simple test gives psychologists a tool to predict how a individual will behave much later in life and how successful they will be. Mischel then expands into other studies on behaviour that he has been involved in and covers some of the work undertaken in schools to teach self control, and methods that you can use at home to achieve the same goals. Was worth reading, and he covers a fascinating subject fairly well. But it does feel like you are reading a academic paper at times. I think that 2.5 stars is fair.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Aleksandar

    A pretty great book that goes into the research that shows self-control can be learned. Genetics still play a part, but not as large a part as we once thought. The book is divided into 3 sections. The first section deals with the original marshmallow test and related research, while the second and third sections deal with applications and strategies. I would have liked it if the first section were shorter as it seemed far too long for the amount of research it had to present. More strategies and A pretty great book that goes into the research that shows self-control can be learned. Genetics still play a part, but not as large a part as we once thought. The book is divided into 3 sections. The first section deals with the original marshmallow test and related research, while the second and third sections deal with applications and strategies. I would have liked it if the first section were shorter as it seemed far too long for the amount of research it had to present. More strategies and the discussion of why they work would have been welcome, but maybe that's the TELL-ME-HOW-TO-NOT-EAT-THE-CAKE-IN-FRONT-OF-ME side of my personality. With that said, the author is coherent, conversational, and really interesting. You'll find yourself learning all sorts of tangential things too, for example, an aspirin actually helps relieve emotional pain. Honestly, our minds are pretty amazing, and the book does a good job showing why. All in all, a fascinating read, and one I'd recommend to anyone interested in self control.

  15. 5 out of 5

    uosɯɐS

    Audiobook. I had very high SAT scores. Perhaps more importantly, I had very high PSAT scores (National Merit Scholar). I did take a Kaplan course to help prepare... but not everybody who took a Kaplan course did as well as I did... and I took the test a year younger than most. I used to credit homeschooling with my high academic performance. But... I have 3 siblings, and none of them did quite as well as me on standardized tests (though my younger brother did go on to get a PhD in music). So far Audiobook. I had very high SAT scores. Perhaps more importantly, I had very high PSAT scores (National Merit Scholar). I did take a Kaplan course to help prepare... but not everybody who took a Kaplan course did as well as I did... and I took the test a year younger than most. I used to credit homeschooling with my high academic performance. But... I have 3 siblings, and none of them did quite as well as me on standardized tests (though my younger brother did go on to get a PhD in music). So far as I know, no one else at my homeschool coop was ever a National Merit Scholar either. And, many public schoolers do become National Merit Scholars. For a long time, I have avoided thinking of myself as a "High IQ" person. For one thing, I don't even think IQ is a very well-defined scientific idea (Yes, We Have No Neutrons: An Eye-Opening Tour Through the Twists and Turns of Bad Science). Also, being brough up in a highly religious home, I supposed I internalized the idea that "pride is a sin." Or, maybe as a woman, I'm just more suceptible to "impostor syndrome." Even now, I like the idea of "growth mindset" as an explanation for why some people persist, and therefore achieve, beyond others who believe in "fixed aptitude." But, none of this seems to give a truly satisfying answer about why I achieved beyond others in many ways. Perhaps there truly is something different about me? Well, as a child in my family... I was always know as "the good one," "the responsible one," "the compliant one," etc. I never took a "Marshmallow Test," but I imagine if I had I would have been one of those who waited. The original takeaway from this book is that those who performed well on "The Marshmallow Test" as pre-schoolers, had innate self-control that served them well for years to come (specifically: it correlated well with high SAT scores). And those who did poorly on the test, were bad at self-control, and continued to be for years to come. However, this book is all about analyzing what strategies are used by the children who succeeded, and exploring if and how they can be taught to others: this book certainly thinks that people can be taught to be "good Marshmallow Testers"! I also babysat quite as bit when I was younger... my go to strategy was always: keep the kids busy having fun! If they are having fun in a way that you have provided... they won't be getting into trouble. Well, that is the distraction technique talked about in this book too. Also, being able to imagine (activating the hot system) various positive outcomes (in the future) resulting from various efforts kept me focused (in the present) many times. (In highschool, I had a crush on Han Solo and wanted to be Princess Leia, partly because Han Solo liked her. The scene right before their first kiss, she is welding. WELDING! I then somehow associated technical aptitude with romance... like, be really good at math/science/technology, and Han Solo will fall in love with you. Talk about activating the HOT system ;-) lol) But, recently it has been found (as with everything in the social sciences lately, it seems!) that the original study was flawed. Well... maybe the subsequent studies were flawed too? He also mentions the concept of Decision Fatigue, which I've also now heard was based on questionable research. Perhaps I should hold a moratorium on reading any more social science books for a while... (ah, I also just read the other day that The Stanford Prison Experiment was a fraud! Well, there goes: The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil; maybe The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty is still worthwhile???)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    I’ve lately been quite taken with the idea that one of the biggest secrets of an ultimately happy life is the development of self-control. If you haven’t heard about this fascinating study, let me sum it up for you: Children are taken to an isolated room and presented with one marshmallow. If the child is willing to wait for a time period until the researcher returns to the room and is able to avoid eating the one marshmallow, he will be given two marshmallows. Some children could do it; some cou I’ve lately been quite taken with the idea that one of the biggest secrets of an ultimately happy life is the development of self-control. If you haven’t heard about this fascinating study, let me sum it up for you: Children are taken to an isolated room and presented with one marshmallow. If the child is willing to wait for a time period until the researcher returns to the room and is able to avoid eating the one marshmallow, he will be given two marshmallows. Some children could do it; some could not. It was interesting to read about the extreme measures some children took in order to avoid eating the single marshmallow until the researcher returned. Many years later, the same children were again assessed, this time as adults. Those children who had delayed gratification were found to be much more successful in completing schooling, in marrying, in raising children, and in life in general. Remarkable. Mischel tells the story of his original research and examines where the research has led and where it is continuing to go. And it has led to some breathtaking places. Idle Grasshoppers and Busy Ants. Thinking Hot and Cold. Protecting the Hurt Self: Self-Distancing. Will Fatigue. And on and on. I loved reading this book. Now if we can just figure out some good ways to teach children how to wait for those two marshmallows we could have a better world.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I won a copy of this book on Goodreads and I absolutely loved this book! I wasn't familiar with Dr. Mischel's pioneering research on self-control and delayed gratification until reading this book. The Marshmallow Test was created by Dr. Mischel over 40 years ago at Stanford University. Dr. Mischel's research used preschoolers in order to understand the relationship between delaying instant gratification and the cognitive processes used to achieve self-control. Only 30% of the preschoolers were a I won a copy of this book on Goodreads and I absolutely loved this book! I wasn't familiar with Dr. Mischel's pioneering research on self-control and delayed gratification until reading this book. The Marshmallow Test was created by Dr. Mischel over 40 years ago at Stanford University. Dr. Mischel's research used preschoolers in order to understand the relationship between delaying instant gratification and the cognitive processes used to achieve self-control. Only 30% of the preschoolers were able to delay gratification in order to receive a reward of two marshmallows. Subsequently, Dr. Mischel then followed these preschoolers later in life and discovered that being able to delay gratification resulted in higher test scores, better coping skills, and higher levels of achievement. This book is a very significant contribution to our understanding of the importance of self-control and how to better develop these skills. Since we live in an a society that is very oriented toward instant gratification, the timing of the release of The Marshmallow Test couldn't have come at a better time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Natalia

    This is a great book if you aren't familiar with the area of executive function (self-control, etc.). I am so I didn't feel like I learned anything new but it was still fun. I think he makes a good case that we can literally never have to utter the words "nature vs. nurture" again because it's both, it's always both, and we know it's always both. So no more wondering. Mmmk everyone? This is a great book if you aren't familiar with the area of executive function (self-control, etc.). I am so I didn't feel like I learned anything new but it was still fun. I think he makes a good case that we can literally never have to utter the words "nature vs. nurture" again because it's both, it's always both, and we know it's always both. So no more wondering. Mmmk everyone?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Adelina Stanciu

    “I think, therefore I can change what I am.”

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control by Walter Mischel The "marshmallow test" is one of the few psychological experiments that has permeated into large parts of the public consciousness. In the original experiment, done by Walter Mischel and his colleagues in the 1960s at Stanford, young children aged seven to nine would be asked to choose from an assortment of treats. Options included the eponymous marshmallows, but tykes could choose a cookies or whatever they found most tempting. The e The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control by Walter Mischel The "marshmallow test" is one of the few psychological experiments that has permeated into large parts of the public consciousness. In the original experiment, done by Walter Mischel and his colleagues in the 1960s at Stanford, young children aged seven to nine would be asked to choose from an assortment of treats. Options included the eponymous marshmallows, but tykes could choose a cookies or whatever they found most tempting. The experimenter placed one of the treats on the table at which the child was seated. The game was that the experimenter was going to exit the otherwise empty room and the child could either choose to eat the single treat or wait until the experimenter returned 15 minutes later, at which time he or she would be given TWO of the treats. It was a test of how well the child could delay gratification. Through follow-up research, Mischel found that children who developed more effective strategies for delaying their marshmallow-related gratifications grew up to be more successful, healthier, and more well adapted to the difficulties of life. This book is an examination of why this is the case. There are chapters on what Mischel calls the "hot and cold systems" that underlie our thinking and how we deal with temptation. Other chapters deal with differences in how people react to threats, negative self-image, tragedies, and failure. Throughout each of these the author ties the concepts back to the marshmallow test and subsequent research in that line. I found the book interesting and appreciated how Mischel pushed out from the original topic of delay gratification to deal with so many other things that stem from it. There's some interesting things in there about clinical psychology and what the "cool system" has to do with anxieties, fears, and maintaining good self-perception. Mischel is clearly an expert in this stuff, having spent decades studying it and making friends or colleagues out of others who share his interests. I liked hearing about experiments and interventions ranging from the Standford psychology labs (where a horrifying clown tried to entice children with quaint toys) to the inner city schools of New York during the 1980s (where one child literally tried to light Mischel on fire). The only complaint I have about the book is that it doesn't tell stories as well as other books of this type sometimes do. We get some of this when it comes directly from Mischel's experiences and history, but where other authors might tell stories about people or situations that support their thesis and recommendations, we rarely get that here. As a result, large swaths of the book become a bit of a slog with just descriptions of experimental procedures or theory to get us through. A narrative or two mixed in with a relatable person or familiar event would have made the book more enjoyable and even more practical.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    I chose to read "The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control" by Walter Mischel for two reasons. One- I learned about the study in school and I was interested in learning more. Two- I was hoping the conclusion of the book may help me gain a bit more self control, since I am a soon to be college student I think now is the time to improve on my self discipline. Unfortunately I did not find any solid advice on improving self control in this book, all I "learned" was self control tactics i already I chose to read "The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control" by Walter Mischel for two reasons. One- I learned about the study in school and I was interested in learning more. Two- I was hoping the conclusion of the book may help me gain a bit more self control, since I am a soon to be college student I think now is the time to improve on my self discipline. Unfortunately I did not find any solid advice on improving self control in this book, all I "learned" was self control tactics i already knew, so I essentially learned nothing to help gain control over my life. This book was just an over all drag in my opinion, all it was, was a retelling of studies and it was rather repetitive. On the other hand in class when I learned about the Marshmallow test I didn't know it was a longitudinal study where the kids were later visited as adults. It fascinated me how the kids who waited for the two marshmallows were on average more successful in later years than those who ate the one marshmallow instantly. I have conflicting feelings based on this book. On one hand it was boring with all the facts, stats and information, which made is hard to get excited about reading when I knew it was summer and I could be doing a million other things or reading another more captivating book. On the other hand, I love learning and being able to talk about this phenomenon with what this book informed me on. In the end my experience with the book was rather ironic. Stop reading and choose another? Or use my self discipline to finish the book? In the end I forced myself to finish... so maybe that was Walter Mischel's goal, to teach discipline by making the reader need discipline to finish reading his boring book. Overall I would not recommend the book due to its repetition... just research the study on Google and save yourself the time.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Samuel

    This is a really interesting book! It's not exactly what I was expecting, since most of the focus is on past research studies on children, as opposed to a how-to guide for adults, but I really enjoyed reading it. It shows that self-control can be learned and improved upon, that "this is just how I am" isn't really a valid way to excuse behaviors that hurt relationships or personal success and happiness. That's not how you are. That's how you want to be. I could see a lot of myself and my sister This is a really interesting book! It's not exactly what I was expecting, since most of the focus is on past research studies on children, as opposed to a how-to guide for adults, but I really enjoyed reading it. It shows that self-control can be learned and improved upon, that "this is just how I am" isn't really a valid way to excuse behaviors that hurt relationships or personal success and happiness. That's not how you are. That's how you want to be. I could see a lot of myself and my sister in the various scenarios in the book. I would be the one waiting as long as it took for the researcher to come back in the room so I could have two cookies, while she would be the one ringing the bell almost immediately, unable to wait and deciding she would take just the one cookie right now.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Om Manghani

    A nice book, I think Mischel did a good job of getting across his point about willpower, and really hammering it home at the end. Some of the strategies that he talked about were quite fascinating. I liked how he was able to apply his main claim to so many different realms of life, which I did not even think we're possible. He applied self-control to relationships, managing money, and more. In these situations, I would think of self control as a less important tool, but he showed me how importan A nice book, I think Mischel did a good job of getting across his point about willpower, and really hammering it home at the end. Some of the strategies that he talked about were quite fascinating. I liked how he was able to apply his main claim to so many different realms of life, which I did not even think we're possible. He applied self-control to relationships, managing money, and more. In these situations, I would think of self control as a less important tool, but he showed me how important it really is. That being said, almost the whole book was research based, and lacked the different dimensions of a narrative nonfiction book. If he were to connect to the reader more, I think I would have it enjoyed it that much more.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Larisa

    A delicacy for any impulsive character looking for shortcuts. There are some. You get to know how one part of the brain, labeled the hot brain, reacts immediately to stimuli, while the prefrontal cortex, or the cool brain, can exercise self-control. Mischel tells you, based on 40 years of research, how to "cool" your impulses and delay rewards. A delicacy for any impulsive character looking for shortcuts. There are some. You get to know how one part of the brain, labeled the hot brain, reacts immediately to stimuli, while the prefrontal cortex, or the cool brain, can exercise self-control. Mischel tells you, based on 40 years of research, how to "cool" your impulses and delay rewards.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nassimoka

    I don't think there is a book in our universe that can change our life without struggling, but I believe there is books that can make really good influence on our mind and then change our habits. This book is one of them I don't think there is a book in our universe that can change our life without struggling, but I believe there is books that can make really good influence on our mind and then change our habits. This book is one of them

  26. 4 out of 5

    Iggy

    I skim read this because it was dull and repetitive. The content just doesn't suit a story-telling format. It would have been better as an extended article or even just left as a research paper. I skim read this because it was dull and repetitive. The content just doesn't suit a story-telling format. It would have been better as an extended article or even just left as a research paper.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Raphael Lysander

    It is a nice read. However, Mr. Mischel, like many psychology authors sadly, makes an experiment and suddenly it becomes the solution and cure for many psychological problems like depression and anxiety... And many other things. While many hasty conclusions were based on this experiment regardless of the small statistical presentation I was surprised that non of the follows was considered to complete the understanding of self control: 1- the experiment tests whether a child would delay a small tre It is a nice read. However, Mr. Mischel, like many psychology authors sadly, makes an experiment and suddenly it becomes the solution and cure for many psychological problems like depression and anxiety... And many other things. While many hasty conclusions were based on this experiment regardless of the small statistical presentation I was surprised that non of the follows was considered to complete the understanding of self control: 1- the experiment tests whether a child would delay a small treat now for a larger treat later. The thing here is that the larger treat is granted for sure if the child waited,and while it is interesting to study why some kids didn't wait, it is very important to see what would happen if the promise of larger treat was not 100 percent granted. 2- how would those children who waited will react in social pressure? If they were with other kids who couldn't wait and eat the small treat in front of them, would they still have the self control to delay gratification? 3- what if, instead of a reward, there was a punishment? Would they still have the same self control and how is it compared to the reward case? 4- Dr. Mischel describes those who delay gratification as having better "cooling" brains contrary to those who are "hot" to act. But where delayed gratification, as a praised quality, stops and where passion starts? And where self control ends and fear of taking actions begins? The experiment seems to draw no such lines. So taking those points in consideration, and that other wider experiment deemed this one's result about future success to be invalid, you wonder: what did this experiment really measured?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rossdavidh

    If you want to watch some small kids deal with the test that gives this book its name, you can see it here. Basically, the children are given a marshmallow, and then offered two choices: 1) eat the marshmallow 2) wait until the researcher comes back, and if they haven't eaten the marshmallow, they can have a second one The researcher would leave the room, but of course the child was secretly observed (in the original case, using a one-way mirror). The original intent of the experiment was to see wh If you want to watch some small kids deal with the test that gives this book its name, you can see it here. Basically, the children are given a marshmallow, and then offered two choices: 1) eat the marshmallow 2) wait until the researcher comes back, and if they haven't eaten the marshmallow, they can have a second one The researcher would leave the room, but of course the child was secretly observed (in the original case, using a one-way mirror). The original intent of the experiment was to see what would impact how long the child could wait; for example, what if they see a picture of the marshmallow instead of having an actual marshmallow in front of them? However, after a few years had passed, it occurred to the original experimenter that he could go back and see if the ability of a 3 or 4 year old child to postpone enjoyment of a marshmallow (in order to get two), could predict anything else about life success. It turns out, it predicted quite a lot. Walter Mischel's original experiment has since been replicated, and extended, in several other settings, including other countries. It has also been widely reported on, and Mischel claims to have decided to write this book, because he was troubled by some of the interpretations he saw of it. In particular, he found some of the summaries of his work made it sound as if the ability to delay gratification were an inborn trait, and fated you for either success or failure in life. It turns out that one's ability to delay gratification, is modifiable by quite a lot, and does not simply measure some inborn ability for self-restraint. For example, if the experimenter breaks a promise to the child just prior to the marshmallow test, this reduces the amount of time they can wait, and if the subject is told to imagine the marshmallow as being framed, like a picture, rather than being a real marshmallow, this increases the amount of time they can wait. Much of Mischel's book discusses the difference between the brain's "hot" and "cool" systems. The "hot" system is responsible for generating immediate responses, such as "stomp on the brakes to avoid hitting that person". The "cool" system is responsible for more reasoned and rational responses, such as, well, "don't eat that marshmallow yet, the lady said we could have two if we wait". He looks at various coping strategies for helping your "cool" system to override your "hot" system, when you're trying to lose weight, quit smoking, save money, and so forth. He also looks at how things like a chaotic school environment can erode your ability to delay gratification, since chaos tends to make us suspicious of our ability to predict the future, and that in turn erodes our ability to sacrifice present gratification for future gain. Thus, for example, if a nation is wracked by civil war, or a child attends a school which is underfunded and poorly run, the impact on the ability of those who grew up in that environment to delay gratification can be long-lived. He also spends a fair amount of time examining how some people can have great self-control in some contexts, but not in others. For example, he says, powerful politicians who are laid low by a penchant for illicit romance, prostitutes, illegal drugs, and so forth. I tend to think that the explanation here is simpler than Mischel does. He thinks that one's ability to empower the "cool" system depends on building up habits and strategies of thinking that don't always transfer between different contexts. I think it's more that powerful men do these things because they think they can get away with it, and often they do. But this is a minor quibble with a mostly well-written book, with a self-deprecating and humorous author's voice that is quick to give credit to the many other researchers who have helped with or extended his work. Mischel has worked for decades at a topic of psychology that is of both fundamental and also widespread practical importance: how to achieve self-control. Given how many other psychologists have done work that is either unsound scientifically, or not very relevant to our own personal lives, we should be thankful to Mischel for showing how it should be done. That he has written a thoroughly readable and entertaining book about it is a great bonus (even if, like myself, you're not all that keen on marshmallows).

  29. 5 out of 5

    Venky

    Expanding upon a fascinating experiment conducted at the Bing Nursery School in Stanford University many decades ago, Walter Mischel expounds on the benefits derived by delaying instant gratification for future success. The famous experiment, now popular as "The Marshmallow Test" primarily aimed to put to test the will power of little children who were asked to choose between two alternatives. While under the first option, they could immediately take a candy/sweet/marshmallow (as per their prefe Expanding upon a fascinating experiment conducted at the Bing Nursery School in Stanford University many decades ago, Walter Mischel expounds on the benefits derived by delaying instant gratification for future success. The famous experiment, now popular as "The Marshmallow Test" primarily aimed to put to test the will power of little children who were asked to choose between two alternatives. While under the first option, they could immediately take a candy/sweet/marshmallow (as per their preference) that was kept on a table, they were presented with a second choice under which they could lay claim to grab 2 candies/sweets/marshmallows if they could resist their desires by a mere 20 minutes. A researcher would leave the room with a child sitting alone in front of the table upon which the candies were kept. If the child, having wrestled out by temptation decided to pick the candy, all he/she had to do was ring a bill kept on the table, hearing which the researcher would return to the room and allow the child to take one sweet of his/choice. However if the child was successfully able to resist the allure of the sweet for all of 20 minutes, the researcher would enter the room after the designated time limit and gift the winner any 2 sweets of the victor's choice. This simple experiment shed enormously valuable insights into the workings of the human behaviour and led the way to identifying many improvements that usually go on to embellish the living of a person, a classic example being the ability to stop smoking after being addicted to nicotine for an imperceptibly long period. This books makes essential reading for anyone who is interested in gaining control over the more rustic senses thereby setting a focused path towards progression both in career as well as in life. "The Mashmallow Test" - A fulfilling and rich after taste!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Said AlMaskery

    The book is important, but I have to say it could have been written better. I am comparing this with "Thinking, Fast and Slow". Nevertheless there were very good insights on what makes a person more capable of controlling his "hot" temper and shifting it into the "cool" zone. I would recommend the book for anyone who would like to understand what makes him what he wants on the spot and cannot wait or delay the gratification. The book could have been a 5 star with the informative content, but I fe The book is important, but I have to say it could have been written better. I am comparing this with "Thinking, Fast and Slow". Nevertheless there were very good insights on what makes a person more capable of controlling his "hot" temper and shifting it into the "cool" zone. I would recommend the book for anyone who would like to understand what makes him what he wants on the spot and cannot wait or delay the gratification. The book could have been a 5 star with the informative content, but I felt there was somehow repetition and unneeded examples. Enjoy!

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