Renowned psychologist Walter Mischel, designer of the famous Marshmallow Test, explains what self-control is and how to master it.
A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behavior later in life?
The world's leading expert on self-control, Walter Mischel has proven that the ability to delay gratification is critical for a successful life, predicting higher SAT scores, better social and cognitive functioning, a healthier lifestyle and a greater sense of self-worth. But is willpower prewired, or can it be taught?
In The Marshmallow Test, Mischel explains how self-control can be mastered and applied to challenges in everyday life - from weight control to quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement. With profound implications for the choices we make in parenting, education, public policy and self-care, The Marshmallow Test will change the way you think about who we are and what we can be.
©2014 Walter Mischel (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved. Excerpts from David G. Myers, "Self-Serving Bias," in This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking edited by John Brockman (New York: Doubleday, 2012), 37-38. Used with permission. Quotes from George Ramirez are printed with permission. Excerpts from Sesame Street script for episode 4412 are reprinted with permission. "Sesame Workshop"®, "Sesame Street"®, and associated characters, trademarks, and design elements are owned and licensed by Sesame Workshop. © 2014 Sesame Workshop. All Rights Reserved.
Judith Corstjens Author of: Xtensity, Why 5% of Dieters Succeed; Storewars: The Battle for Mindspace and Shelfspace; Strategic Advertising
Like Thinking Fast and Slow, this book examines how the two layers of the brain - system 1 and system 2, or the limbic system and pre-frontal cortex, or as Mishel generally prefers to say, the 'hot' system and the 'cool' one - muddle along together to run our lives for better or worse. Despite discussing largely the same topic, Mishel manages to take a completely fresh view from Kahneman (i.e. practically no direct overlap). Michel is also a more pithy writer, respecting the reader's intelligence, whereas Kahneman tends to be bit longwinded, a bit of an old woman, spelling out his ideas when you've already got the point.
I came across the Marshmallow Test originally in research for my own book about controlling obesity, through the (surprising) finding that the BMI of 40 year olds (in the US) correlated significantly with their ability to defer rewards at age 4, as measured by the Marshmallow Test in the 1960’s. This finding is mentioned, but Mishel ranges far wider - try this:
Brain imaging established that the same areas of the brain lit up when people felt physical pain (in fact, heat on forearm) as when they suffered the pain of emotional rejection (in fact, playing a video game and getting left out by the other two players). So this raised the question, ‘Could you take paracetamol to numb the pain of rejection?' And it turns out (at least under experimental conditions and for video games) that paracetamol does indeed protect people to some extent from emotional upset. (Which may shed some light on why people get addicted to painkillers.)
Mishel offers lots of implications for education, and even explains why people tend to boast so much - I'm always getting sat next self aggrandising idiots at parties - look out for the episode about Jake. The explanation is more subtle than you might guess.
Narration: good and natural, by which I mean totally unobtrusive - it was the voice I would imagine for Walter Mishel, but a professional performer.
Excellently written book. The information was not too technical and not overly simplistic. Hard evidence backed up by solid research showed how to use the Power of your mind to gain control of your behaviour and that how you think can really influence how you feel. In particular, the idea about hot and cool systems and the concept of a future self made a quite abstract concept more tangible: loved it!
The book goes way beyond what the title and 'byline' indicates. An educational look into the basis of human behaviors. It caused me to take a look at my up bringing and childhood and pin point the causal factors for all of my negative behaviors. It's helped me form new foundations to change my thinking and work ethics as well any destructive behaviors I might have.
This is a cliché but it really is a must read.
general attorney of nothing in special
Couldn't stop listening! I found myself taking longer walks to get through a chapter before I got home. Enlightening research and excellent narration.
Glad I purchased and it's a book I will come back to listen to again.
There are so many topics covered in this book in a clear and concise manner with lots of relevant studies to back up the findings. These findings are presented in a non biased manner & pleasant narrator to listen to.
Interesting, revealing, a tiny bit slow in parts but really enjoyable. I can say no more my face is stuffed with marshmallows and I'm heading for the door
Yes at any time because I'am sure it'll be worth it and there are still findings I will profit from
The many everyday examples, great clarity
Good energy, various voices
No, and could not have, I really needed to concentrate - use self controll mechanisms :)
Even though it's now the newest philosphy it was good to be reminded of our and our childrens ability to steer our own lifes through the everyday jungle of present life
"Not a sweet solution pill, but still can be swallowed."
Academic, through, long.
I first started with "The Willpower Instinct" by Kelly McGonigal and wanted to learn more about the academic research behind it. The Marshmallow Test is a longer, more detailed version of it and to me it sounded more academic. I found the subject fascinating.
Not the ones on non-fiction.
Small town boy holds on to his marshmallows, uses them to bribe the class bully and gets rich and famous later in life.
I am a fan of Alan Alda, however, I felt like this audio performance has been rushed a little. Most of the time, it gave me the impression that he got the gig and started reading it, without properly emphasizing the sentences. Yes, it was a long book and a lot to read, oh well, nobody can be perfect all the time.
"Great performance, but lacking in content"
I did enjoy the listen, but it was over before it really told me any more than what was in Joachim de Posada's TED talk on the marshmallow experiments.
So, lovely and enjoyable, but does not really add anything to a 9 min TED talk.
Alan Alda narrates beautifully.
"Self-control is a skill we CAN develop!"
It is a bit ironic and telling that while reading The Marshmallow Test I wanted Dr. Mischel to just give me the tips and tricks that would enable me to gain more self-control. Even if I lack patience now and probably would have been one of the children that wanted one marshmallow right now, he has written a book that gives me hope along with plenty of scientific explanation that self-control is a skill that I can develop, nurture and practice. I think he does an excellent job of explaining what self-control is, where it is warranted, instances where it may be more appropriate not to delay gratification, and what we might gain in our lives if we are able to better hone our willpower. As every science and statistics student has learned, correlation does not imply causation, and Dr. Mischel gives a well-reasoned explanation of what the ability to delay gratification may be correlated with. The reader is left with a clear understanding that waiting to get two marshmallows later instead of gobbling one immediately does not cause an easy and worry-free life! As other reviewers have stated, this is not a self-help book with a series of steps to be followed, but it is thoughtful and thought-provoking writing from the man who has spent his life researching self-control and provided us with the tools he has discovered.
"Great insights into our minds and motivations"
The first half of the book would have done well with further editing. The second half of the book was far more interesting and engaging. Alan Alda is a wonderful narrator and that helped with getting through some of the more technical and repetitive aspects of the book.
It was worth it to stay closely focused to the very end. This research is critically important to the future of our educational system, providing preschoolers with a better skill set for success and helping adults understand that change for themselves is still possible.
I would highly recommend this.
"Great Info But Redundant"
Great performance by Alan Alda. The research and antidotes are wonderful. Only criticism is it often felt redundant and that a good 25% of the book was continuously repeated and could have easily been edited down. Otherwise, very eye-opening and a motivating listen.
"Well written, easy to read and effective"
Walter Mischel is one of the popes from the recent psychology. He designed the well known Mashmallow Test that proved that kids who waited for the researcher to come back and earned the second treat (instead of ringing the bell early to get only one marshmallow) did better in life than their peers. He found out that this was because of self control and executive function, and that it could be learned and enhanced. Ok, that is common knowledge, and I thought that the book was only about that test, but Walter Mischel goes way beyond that, creating links between the research and the current knowledge to write a great book.
Go ahead! Listen to it. You will enjoy it.
"What will you do with this knowledge?"
My motivation for listening to this book changed as I listened to it. I first started reading it because I heard how predictive the marshmallow test is for future happiness and success. However by the end of it I realized that the best reason for choosing this book is because our ability to delay gratification and practice self-awareness can be learned and developed.
This was a fun book to listen to. I probably would have gotten more out of it had I read it, but it was nonetheless fascists sting research on how self control is developed, and the benefits of delayed gratification. The author also pointed out that too much delayed gratification is just as bad as too little delayed gratification. This book reminded me of the Power of Habit in the sense that it was all about reframing how you viewed the world and changing the way you think. As a new dad, it was interesting for me to learn that helping your kids to distract themselves and learn how to wait is extremely valuable and can help them learn self control and develop executive function. I would certainly recommend this book.
"In a very meta way this is hard to listen to"
Listening to this book seemed painfully like finishing my broccoli. Lots of abbreviations like EF that you have to remember. That's great when you can flip back a page. Not so good on audio.
"kind of wordy and drawn out"
I respect Alan Alda as an actor but I was distracted by his voice in this reading. Due to his celebrity I found it hard to disconnect from Alan's voice and stay connected only with the actual authors content. I much prefer books read By The Author.
I have so many other books I want to read that this one just couldn't hold my attention. It felt like they were stretching out what should be a Life Magazine article into a book, so as to sell it. Feel overly clinical and I don't mean hard to understand but I mean excessive in repetitive details that didn't support my intake of the main ideas.
celebrity, familiar, distracting
no, I felt it was drawn out, overly wordy, not to the point.
there maybe some real Gold in this book but the presentation made it too hard to wait for or find. Alan's voice is very clear, strong, measured easy to understand, mostly authoritative, but still too familiar, I couldn't stop thinking M*A*S*H during the reading. Sorry.
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