Nicaragua: Psychology and High Delayers Essay

Submitted By rayne-luhan
Words: 900
Pages: 4

Raw intelligence by default is thought of as the biggest factor when contemplating how to obtain success; but there are other characteristics that play equal, if not greater roles. In recent psychological studies, it was found that self-control plays a significant role in the pathway to success than intelligence. Jonah Lehrer, the author of “Don’t! The Secret of Self-Control,” analyzes this power and influence of self-control in several experiments, the most prevalent being the “Marshmallow Experiment.” In this experiment, psychologist Walter Mischel tested children on their ability to delay gratification, by abstaining from eating a marshmallow. The test subjects were told that if they did not eat it in the allotted time, they would receive another one. This article describes different aspects of the lives of the children tested—major aspects include school life, relationships, and behavior. At the conclusion of the analysis, Lehrer posits that high delayers of gratification have greater success than low delayers in academics, behavior, and overall life skills.
Lehrer proposes that high delayers on average exhibit a greater streak of academic success than low delayers. In observing the test subjects’ performance in school and their results in the marshmallow experiment, Mischel noticed a “link between the children’s academic performance as teenagers and their ability to wait for a second marshmallow” (Lehrer 2). After finding this correlation, he began to study their scores on the SAT: a test which does not measure a student’s raw math or verbal understanding but his “capacity to plan” (2) and do well under pressure. He found that the high delayers had an SAT score that was around “two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds” (Lehrer 2). With self-control, one’s ability to focus on a task increases to the point where he can sit down and be determined to study or practice for a longer period without distraction. Their perseverance to succeed without being preoccupied by hankerings helps high delayers spend time studying instead of--for example--playing video games or watching TV. Not only did Mischel track the academic success in the test subjects’ teenage years, but he also tracked the success in their adult years, where self-control was reflected by career choice. Carolyn Weisz, a high delayer of gratification, “attended Stanford as an undergraduate” and “got her Ph.D. in social psychology at Princeton” (Lehrer 2). However, Carolyn’s brother Craig, who displayed less resistance, has “spent his career doing ‘all kinds of things’ in the entertainment industry” (Lehrer 2). Because of the fact that people with high self-control are academically advanced starting at a young age, their success grants them a myriad of job opportunities. Unlike low delayers, they are not restricted by the boundaries of academic distress and struggle.
Moreover, individuals with a low self-control level are more impulsive and liable to have behavioral problems. Ozlem Ayduk, an assistant professor of psychology, ascertained that adults who quickly succumbed to temptation had a “significantly higher body-mass index and [were] more likely to have had problems with drugs” (Lehrer 3). A low delayer’s lack of self-control and will power bring about weakness and incapability within him so he just cannot say “NO” to his. In the marshmallow experiment, low delayers merely had less motivation and patience to tolerate not devouring the marshmallow. In a similar experiment designed to differentiate between impulse levels, subjects were told to press the space bar on a computer whenever they saw a smile. A few minutes later, they were told to press the space bar when they saw frowning faces. This part was more difficult since the subjects were being