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The most profound results of the study came when Mischel tracked down those children later in life.

Children in the experiment who were able to delay gratification, waiting until the researcher returned and claiming the bonus marshmallow, grew up to have fewer behavioral problems, higher scores on college entrance exams, better attention spans and superior social relationships.

In short, they had more life success as adults.

The study was long cited as evidence that such self-discipline was a major contributor to personal success, perhaps more than other factors such as intelligence.

A more recent study in 2012 at the University of Rochester built on Mischel’s research. It suggested the child’s choices might also be influenced by how much the kid trusted the researcher to come back with the second marshmallow—that nature and nurture influenced the marshmallow decision.

Gregory Karp, the author of “Living Rich by Spending Smart,” writes for the Chicago Tribune.

©2014 Chicago Tribune
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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