The Marshmallow Test
By Walter Mischel
Much ado has been made of the titular psych test, in which kids able to wait 20 minutes to earn two marshmallows instead of settling for one right away were shown, decades later, to rate better on everything from educational level to their risk of becoming a drug addict. In this book, Walter Mischel, who designed the original experiment, dispels the notion that the ability to delay gratification is a have-or-not-have trait. The patient kids, he writes, used strategies anyone can learn. (“I think, therefore I can change what I am.”) And if you’re just not motivated, don’t fret. After all, Mischel notes, what fun is life without a little indulgence?
This review originally appeared in our September/October issue of Mother Jones.