Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another study confirms the Marshmellow test

Over four years ago I wrote:

I first heard of the test from Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. The marshmallow test was conducted by Walter Mischel. He would test four year-old children to see if they could not eat a marshmallow that was one the table before them. The results of the test came out ten and twenty years later when they found that the children who had self control and resisted eating the marshmallow were successful in almost every facet of their lives.

Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance of Adolescents is a study which found the same conclusion.  Here is the abstract:

In a longitudinal study of 140 eighth-grade students, self-discipline measured by self-report, parent report, teacher report, and monetary choice questionnaires in the fall predicted final grades, school attendance, standardized achievement-test scores, and selection into a competitive high school program the following spring. In a replication with 164 eighth graders, a behavioral delay-of-gratification task, a questionnaire on study habits, and a group-administered IQ test were added. Self-discipline measured in the fall accounted for more than twice as much variance as IQ in final grades, high school selection, school attendance, hours spent doing homework, hours spent watching television (inversely), and the time of day students began their homework. The effect of self-discipline on final grades held even when controlling for first-marking-period grades, achievement-test scores, and measured IQ. These findings suggest a major reason for students falling short of their intellectual potential: their failure to exercise self-discipline.

This thought is captured in this poem:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

-Calvin Coolidge

One of the most important thing we can do as parents is to model persistence and encourage our children to have self-discipline.

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