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R.I.P., Marshmallow Man

September 25, 2018

Photo by pixel1 on Pixabay, modified by George Bailey

 

My mother recently broke the news to me that the marshmallow man died.

 

GIF provided by Wix

 

No, not that one. I'm talking about Psychologist Walter Mischel, the author of the oft-cited marshmallow study. You know the one. The study in which children were placed alone with a marshmallow and promised an additional marshmallow if they were able to refrain from eating the first? The study that found that children who exhibited more patience early on were more likely to succeed later in life? Yep, that one.

 

I've read a number of articles that say that the study is not replicable or that the findings are simplifications of the truth. I can live with that. But it's hard to argue that it's not good for our children to learn a bit about delayed gratification and that there are abundant marshmallows in store for people who don't scarf down the good as soon as they get their grubby hands on it.

 

If an illustration of that true principle is what Walter Mischel is leaving behind for us, it's a very welcome message. May he rest in peace, and may his family find great comfort. Maybe even a little treat now and then.

 

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