Back when I was an undergraduate (and, yes, I can still remember back that far), I majored in experimental psychology. Not the clinical, what-did-you-dream-about kind of psychology, but the study of human behavior, the science part of psychology.
Sometime after that, I remember reading of the famous ‘marshmallow experiment,’ but had forgotten about it until I saw a mention in an article in the Wall St. Journal the other day.
In 1972, “Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel concocted an ingenious experiment involving young children and a bag of marshmallows. He put a marshmallow on the table and told each child that if he (or she) could wait 15 minutes to eat it, he would get a second one as a reward.”
“About two-thirds of the kids failed the experiment. Some gave in immediately and gobbled up the marshmallow; videotape shows others in agony, trying to discipline themselves – some even banging their little heads on the table.”
“But the most interesting results from that study came years later.