Monday, October 6, 2014

#280 / Marshmallows

The question about whether it's "genetics" or something else that determines human behavior comes up in lots of different contexts. Last Friday, I referenced discussions about sex and adultery. Today, I can direct your attention to issues of "self-control" in children. 

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a book review on The Marshmallow Test by Walter Mischel. I have mentioned this topic before. If you are not familiar with this rather famous psychological experiment, the review will give you an easy to digest synopsis. I appreciated the following comment: 

While observing that genetics plays a role ... Mischel builds a case for how "self-control can be nurtured in children and adults, so that the prefrontal cortex can be used deliberately to activate the cool system and regulate the hot system."

The reviewer finds Mischel's latest writing on the marshmallow experiment an "encouraging reminder that ... it is the individual who is the agent of the action.... You are ultimately in control of your self."

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