Fifty years ago, a groundbreaking psychological experiment on self-control was conducted on preschoolers – involving marshmallows. Fareed speaks with Walter Mischel, the man behind the experiment. Watch the full interview this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.
So you tracked these children down 50 years later, and what did you find?
Mischel: Oh, we found a great deal. We found to our surprise when they were about 13, 14, 15 years old, that the ones who had waited longer on the marshmallow test were doing better in school, were doing better socially and were doing better on SAT scores by quite a bit. And we became very interested in why are they – we seeing these differences? What's that really all about? And we began to pursue them, really, over the years, and approximately every 10 or 12 years, did a follow-up.
Now, when you kept tracking them, did that – this difference you saw – 10 years later, the kids who managed to have delayed gratification were doing better. Was it true 20 years later? Was it true 30 years later? Was it true 40 years later?
Mischel: What happens is that the ones who remain consistently high in self-control over the years, as opposed to the ones who remain consistently low in self-control over the years form two quite different life trajectories that are distinctly different.