Fareed speaks with Amy Chua, a law professor at Yale, and her husband Jed Rubenfeld, also a professor at Yale, about their new book ‘The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America.’ Watch the full interview this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.
So what is the cultural factor at work here that makes it so that these immigrant groups, that certain immigrant groups, succeed?
Chua: And it's not just immigrant groups. The Mormons...
Chua:…are a non-immigrant group.
Chua: What's amazing is that despite their enormous differences - you know, what do Mormons and Nigerian-Americans, and Chinese-Americans have in common? They actually have three features in common that we're calling the triple package.
The first is a deep sense of exceptionality. Now, this exceptionality can come from many sources. It can come from your group that you belong to or your family or just an innate talent or a parent that instills you with that sense of being special.
So where Jews may think of themselves as the chosen people or Mormons may think they have a special kind of religious…that kind of thing?
Or it could be very much a family thing, we're special?
Chua: Absolutely. Or, you know, the Nigerians who are here are disproportionately Igbo and Yoruba, two very successful groups in Nigeria with a proud royal heritage. So what's interesting is that the second quality is insecurity, which it seems like is the opposite of a sense of exceptionality. And insecurity, we mean a feeling that you haven't quite done enough, that you're not quite good enough. And the third is impulse control.
…The third one. I know you know a lot about psychology. It’s based…the most famous experiment that they've done with children is this one about the marshmallow, right?
Rubenfeld: The marshmallow test, yes. It's quite a famous experiment done 30 years ago. You give kids a treat, a marshmallow, a piece of something they like. And you ask them to see if they can wait 15 minutes before they eat it. You tell them, if you do wait, you'll get a second one. And the question was, do they wait or don't they? And...
And the ones who waited, when tracked later on in life, turn out to be more successful on almost every dimension?
Rubenfeld: It was a finding that was stumbled on. Walter Mischel, who originally did the marshmallow test, just almost by accident decided to track them 20 or 30 years later and sure enough, on every measure – academic, occupational, income, staying out of jail – these kids who actually waited the 15 minutes did better.
And the question is, are there cultural factors that induce, that strengthen that kind of willpower and impulse control? And it turns out there are.