Affluence – not willpower -seems to be what’s behind some kids’ capacity to delay gratification – June 1, 2018 Atlantic Monthly article

I have a key interest in evidence, and in the framing (that is, the positioning of it, in the individual and public mind) of it.

That being the case, I was interested to read about recent research seeking to replicate what is know as the “marshmallow test” of children’s capacity of delayed gratification.

One of a number of reports about such recent research is a June 1, 2018 Atlantic Monthly article entitled: “Why Rich Kids Are So Good at the Marshmallow Test: Affluence- not willpower – seems to be what’s behind some kids’ capacity to delay gratification.”

An excerpt reads:

Ultimately, the new study finds limited support for the idea that being able to delay gratification leads to better outcomes. Instead, it suggests that the capacity to hold out for a second marshmallow is shaped in large part by a child’s social and economic background—and, in turn, that that background, not the ability to delay gratification, is what’s behind kids’ long-term success.

The marshmallow test isn’t the only experimental study that has recently failed to hold up under closer scrutiny. Some scholars and journalists have gone so far to suggest that psychology is in the midst of a “replication crisis.” In the case of this new study, specifically, the failure to confirm old assumptions pointed to an important truth: that circumstances matter more in shaping children’s lives than Mischel and his colleagues seemed to appreciate.

[End of excerpt]


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