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The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control
     

The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control

4.5 20
by Walter Mischel
 

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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?

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Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
07/28/2014
Mischel, the renowned psychologist behind the now-famous marshmallow tests of the 1960s, shares the culmination of over 50 years of research on willpower and self-control in this expansive, eye-opening book. The test was simple (a choice of one marshmallow now or two later on provided the means to quantify willpower), yet the results predicted future successes and failures, such that those with self-control as children displayed similar restraint as adults. In addition to an overview of the original longitudinal study, we are given insight into the history and physiology of self-control, its manifestations and its mastery. But, somewhat surprisingly, this book is largely about the ways in which self-control can be learned at any stage in life. Indeed “marshmallows” can take on many forms, as Mischel demonstrates through case studies and more contemporary tests. All of the anecdotes here, not to mention the entire chapter on practical applications, provide insight into how we can maximize our willpower—without overextending its potential. Mischel’s expansive scope makes the title somewhat of a misnomer, as the book covers more than a matter of his initial experiments. To be human is to grapple with the will: this stimulating book encourages us to make mindful decisions. Agent: John Brockman, Brockman Inc. (Sept.)
Daniel Kahneman
"The discoveries that grew out of the marshmallow studies add up to one of the most insightful research stories in the history of psychology. Whatever it is now, your view of human nature will change profoundly as you read this brilliant book."
From the Publisher
"The discoveries that grew out of the marshmallow studies add up to one of the most insightful research stories in the history of psychology. Whatever it is now, your view of human nature will change profoundly as you read this brilliant book."—Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking Fast and Slow"

A fascinating book. It is such an addictive treat that I had no self-control in reading it, until I understood that I could actually improve my self-control, and from then on I was in marshmallow heaven. Stimulating, fun, clear, lively, and drawn from rigorous studies. It's not only accessible, but very convincing. Seriously, I love it."—Alan Alda, actor, writer, science communication advocate"

This is the book we've all been waiting for."—Angela Lee Duckworth, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, and a 2013 MacArthur Foundation Fellow"

This is an amazing - eye-opening, transformative, riveting - book from one of the greatest psychologists of our time. Mischel delivers the powerful message that self-control can be enhanced, and shows us how!"—Carol S. Dweck, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University, author of Mindset"

The Marshmallow Test, a charmingly told scientific story, makes clear the test is not just about youngsters, but is helpful to us all in the marshmallow moments we face through life. Mischel has written a wonderful book, engaging, enlightening, and profound."—Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence and Focus"

This marvelous book is unique, and beautifully written from beginning to end. The range that Walter Mischel covers-from creative cognitive science to neuroscience to genetics-is breathtaking. This speaks for science at its best. Bravo!"—Eric R. Kandel, MD, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, University Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University, author of The Age of Insight and In Search of Memory"

Walter Mischel is one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century, and The Marshmallow Test will make him one of the most influential in this century, too."—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and the author of The Better Angels of Our Nature."

A fascinating story of a brilliant researcher at work and a recipe for how to change one's life."—Timothy Wilson, Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia, author of Redirect"

Expansive, eye-opening...All of the anecdotes here, not to mention the entire chapter on practical applications, provide insight into how we can maximize our willpower-without overextending its potential....To be human is to grapple with the will: this stimulating books encourages us to make mindful decisions."—Publishers Weekly"

Mischel uses his impressive experience along with others' related research in the field to explore the nature-and nurture-of willpower. He explains simply and elegantly the complex neural and cognitive components that affect our ability to self-regulate."—Success"

This masterwork is a profound and inspiring exploration of the essential question of how we struggle to regulate our own behavior and how we can more frequently win the battle for self-control."—David Laibson, Department of Economics, Harvard University"

Fast-paced and engaging ... An encouraging reminder that, despite all the factors that urge us to indulge, 'at the end of that causal chain, it is the individual who is the agent of the action and decides when to ring the bell.' You are ultimately in control of yourself."
Wall Street Journal"

The happy revelation of Mischel's book is that destiny is not determined by a swallowed or unswallowed marshmallow. . . . a book that can show you how to change your behavior: whether it's finally setting up that pension, cutting your alcohol intake or shunning the marshmallows for good."
Evening Standard"

A tour de force . . . It is to be hoped that this book will make [Mischel] as much of a household name as his marshmallows are."—Times Higher Education"

A fascinating read... In crisp, clear English he explains the latest research and helps readers understand better the surprising results of one the most well-known psychological experiments of all time."—The Economist

Kirkus Reviews
2014-07-23
Mischel (Psychology/Columbia Univ.) argues that our ability to voluntarily exercise self-restraint in pursuit of that just-got-to-have-it desire provides children with a powerful tool that can help them succeed later in life.Numerous research studies have suggested that those who practice self-control do better on their SATs, have great reserves of self-worth, less stress, and have less incidence of obesity and addiction. These are preliminary findings, notes the author, who developed the classic "marshmallow experiment," which illustrates ideas of self-control and delayed gratification. The preponderance of evidence has not yet come down on one side or the other, and he acknowledges the powerful drive for instant gratification—he, too, wants it now, whatever it is, not at some nebulous time in the future. Mischel also notes that people with emotional grounding, advanced social skills and off-the-charts intellectual abilities can still be crippled by self-control issues. The exact source of self-control remains a mystery: Is it a product of nature, of nurture or an acquired cognitive skill of some kind? Researchers have been able to identity two types: "Hot" self-control is "emotional, reflexive unconscious"; the "cool" variety is "cognitive, reflective, slower and effortful." Undoubtedly, there will be nuances down the road, further complicating the picture, but for now, Mischel gets to the heart of the matter. "The emotional brain's predisposition to overvalue immediate rewards and to greatly discount the value of delayed rewards," writes the author, "points to what we need to do if we want to take control: we have to reverse the process by cooling the present and heating the future….push the temptation in front of you far away in space and time, and bring the distant consequences closer in your mind."No one will deny that self-control would make for a better planet, and this cogent guide suggests paths that may lead us to more conscious control of this desirable quality.
Library Journal
09/15/2014
World-renowned psychologist Mischel's (Niven Professor of Humane Letters in Psychology, Columbia Univ.; coauthor, Introduction to Personality) latest work on self-control answers questions such as: Why do smart people do dumb things? Through a series of experiments (including the famed Marshmallow Test) conducted in a variety of settings, Mischel discovered that self-control can take different forms depending on the person. How can a politician have the self-discipline to make it through law school but give in to the temptation of a White House intern? According to Mischel, "self-control is an ability that can or cannot be used depending on motivation to use it." So how do we gain more of this ability, and why should we? Mischel lays out techniques such as if-then plans, self-distancing, and systematic desensitization as ways to delay gratification. Those who exhibited more self-control in the Marshmallow Test showed better quality of life later, including higher test scores, better social functioning, and lower BMI. However, Mischel warns that "a life lived with too much delay of gratification can be as sad as one without enough of it." VERDICT An excellent read on the latest developments in self-control, this title is highly recommended for those of us who struggle with discipline—i.e., everyone! [See Prepub Alert, 3/31/14.]—Jill Morningstar, Michigan State Univ. Libs., East Lansing

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316230872
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
09/23/2014
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Walter Mischel holds the Robert Johnston Niven chair as professor of humane letters in psychology at Columbia University. He is the author of more than two hundred scientific papers as well as the coauthor of Introduction to Personality, now in its eighth edition. He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has won the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of APA and the Grawemeyer Award for Psychology. He lives in New York.

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The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dr. Mischel's renowned delay of gratification studies are so important and relevant in so many ways that the "marshmallow test" has permeated popular culture and been the foundation of a number of accessible books by other authors on emotional intelligence and executive function. As the originator of the ground-breaking research, he does a uniquely masterful job of illustrating the nuances of---exactly what is not at all obvious about---human self-control mechanisms that have been discovered in decades of his own and related work.   What is presented here is all that has come and what remains to be done to realize the full benefit of that work with respect to our own ability to master self-control.
DavidC3 More than 1 year ago
A truly fascinating and often humorous look at our need for immediate gratification in our youth and the skills we can learn throughout life which temper those needs to the benefit of reaching greater goals. A vastly entertaining read that is accessible to the lay public.  Dr. Mischel has done a masterful job in giving us a frank and realistic view of the research process and some well thought insight into what makes us human.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing how telling a simple test can be!  It's too bad that so many of the people who really need to read this book  will choose to play a video game or watch TV instead!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book simply blew me away. It gave a totally new perspective on how I eat,sleep,talk... it just took my mind and completly renewed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This review is from: The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control (Hardcover) This book is worth reading. Don't wait. The author is touted as “one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century.” Rightly so. Walter Mischel is a well-regarded academician and his depth of understanding about deferred gratification is unparallelled. But better still--he writes authentically and personally. Reading this book feels like having a conversation with a very knowledgeable friend over a cup of morning coffee. "Lively and fun” is how the book, and the author, are described by the actor, Alan Alda, who wrote comments on the hard-cover jacket and clearly enjoyed reading Marshmallow Test as much as I did. I intend to give each of our three children a copy for Christmas this year. Maybe sooner.
BKLaw More than 1 year ago
This is a great read.  The tests are explained so any one can understand and the implications are amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reviews lots of studies of self control with ideas for self improvement.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I took Dr. Mischel's personality psychology class as an undergrad at Columbia. Like his lectures, this book is highly informative, erudite, but rather patronizing and dry. Mischel is a master of his field, but in his book and in person I found him lacking in certain interpersonal skills that would allow him to address his audience in a manner that is both relatable and engaging. Nevertheless, I do recommend the book for anyone who is curious about ideas such as self control, rejection sensitivity, "hot" vs "cold" emotional responses, and issues such as wealth inequality in this country.
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