Article #1 Responses

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55 Responses to Article #1 Responses

  1. Allissa Holt says:

    Lehrer’s article uses great evidence to back up the idea that the marshmallow test shows which kids are patient and which are not. However, I do not agree with Lehrer’s first line in the article, “Children who are able to pass the marshmallow test enjoy greater success as adults.” People change as they grow older, therefore, it is inaccurate to base a personality after a test that was done at 4 years old. Many children are impatient because they do not understand or care about why they have to wait. Telling a child that if they do not eat the marshmallow in front of them then they can have another is not a reliable test. There is not a big difference between having one marshmallow and having two marshmallows. If they would have offered ten marshmallows for not eating one then there may have been more kids willing to wait. Also, the children were tested for only fifteen minutes. If they had been tested for maybe an hour then the ones that were able to wait may have gotten more impatient the longer they sat there.
    The fact that a child could not wait to eat a marshmallow does not mean they are not going to be successful in school or in life. Being a good student is more than having delayed gratification. It does involve intelligence. I do not think one is more important than the other because students need to be able to focus and do their homework rather than watching TV to get good grades, but they also need to understand what they are being taught. Turning in assignments on time can easily get someone a passing grade so just because a student always does their homework first before leisure activities does not mean they are smarter than the student that does not. Also, the student that does their homework first could be one of the children that could not wait to eat the marshmallow. When Mischel tracked down the people who had participated in the marshmallow test he noticed that the low delayers had lower S.A.T. scores. That may be true, but what about the people who did change from a low delayer to a high delayer? Why were they able to change? I think those people need to be analyzed just as much as the people that did not change.

    • Rebekah says:

      I really enjoyed your piece, Allissa. It almost felt like a sarcastic tone, even if you didn’t mean it to be so. I agree that just because a child waits to eat two marshmallows instead of one doesn’t mean that they will have a more successful life. I almost felt as if Mischel was making life decisions based on marshmallows which seems almost silly, and perhaps it is. I do, however, believe that, aside from the marshmallow experiment, there is some sense in his findings. It is true that most people do not learn self control at a young age and it could possibly help to learn early on. Just like learning to play the piano. One cannot simply sit next to the piano and know how to play Mozart off the top of their head with zero idea how to play. If you learn at a very young age, you are more likely to be “fluent” later on. Of course, this takes practice; just like learning self control.

    • Tasha Mckibben says:

      I never thought of that perspective. Although it was not my first response to the article, I appreciate your opinion on it. I liked that you pointed out that he took his evidence from when they were in high school but their success in life isn’t determined by how they did on the S.A.T., “When Mischel tracked down the people who had participated in the marshmallow test he noticed that the low delayers had lower S.A.T. scores. That may be true, but what about the people who did change from a low delayer to a high delayer?” I also agree that,”There is not a big difference between having one marshmallow and having two marshmallows,” and as a child they may not care. Four years old is still very young, and many kids at that age take anything they can get, without even thinking. Overall, I really like your different point of view, Good Job.

  2. Ryan Moeller says:

    Don’t: The Secret of Self Control by Jonah Lehrer brings some interesting insights from Walter Mischel and other leading scientists on the ideas of coinciding self control as children to success as adults. I must say that I do agree with the findings of the study to an extent. Mischel says that the children who had a low ability to wait as children grew to become just as rash or had lower memory abilities as adults. I can defiantly see how this can occur. I have some level of personal connection with these statements. My mother works as a pre-school teacher in the Eatonville community, as has done so for about ten years now. The kids that she began teaching in her fist years are now in their eighth or ninth grade year, many in the Eatonville School district. What Mischel says makes total sense to me, because my mom still remembers the struggles she faced with kids that I now have conflicts with on some occasions. She and I can defiantly see similar things, even though we may have witnessed two completely different times in the student’s life.
    I do not, however, agree that who you are at age five totally determines who you are for the rest of your life. Nurture can usually take a strong effect over nature in many cases. Lehrer stated that “Mischel is particularly excited by the example of the substantial subset of people who failed the marshmallow task as four-year-olds but ended up becoming high-delaying adults.” This is a strong indicator that something in their future lives bred them to change into a higher performing adult. Although this has not yet been thoroughly studied by Michel and his crew, I do believe it to be true.
    Lehrer’s thesis is that teaching kids to delay gratification is usually a stronger influence than simple intelligence. In my own experience, I can agree that the ability to delay gratification can be part of the keys to success, but not all of it. It can be a boost to a student’s life, but will not be the soul affect. According to Mischel, “When you grow up poor, you might not practice delay as much, and if you don’t practice then you’ll never figure out how to distract yourself. You won’t develop the best delay strategies, and those strategies won’t become second nature.” However, there have often been stories of young people coming from terrible or poor backgrounds, and becoming incredibly great thinkers. Take Thomas Edison for instance. He was the youngest of seven children, his father was a runaway from Canada, and he was kicked out of school for letting his mind wander too much. Mischel claims that these poor kids won’t be successful in school, but even the wandering mind of young Edison led him to great success in his inventing field. Whether intelligence or delayed gratification will be a greater cause of success will simply depend on the person’s nature, and the ability to absorb from what is around them.
    In regards to the writing of Lehrer, I do not find any use in the middle section on the background of Mischel. I believe he probably included it to establish Mischel’s credibility. However, I think that anybody who cares about the specifics of his background should look it up on their own. In this case, I feel that it hinders from the facts and studies, and becomes slightly confusing. The fact that Mischel is sponsored by Stanford is enough for me. If I need more background knowledge, I could do a little internet research to find some information. Although it is not totally useless in the writing, I do find it distracting and unnecessary.
    I find many points in this article very valid and insightful. It sparks thoughts in my mind that I would not usually have. The facts and figures behind the studies are very useful in determining why people’s learning abilities can differ. Although I do not see all the thoughts that Lehrer brings to be totally true, I do agree with many insights, and find the studies of Mischel quite fascinating.

    • Haley says:

      First of all, I think your argument about Edison is a very strong piece of evidence. You used your outside knowledge and proved that Lehrer’s article might possess some content that is not completely valid. There are many people that started off in poverty or bad conditions and rose to fame through thinking and insight. I also thought your knowledge about your mother’s preschool was useful in setting up your attitude toward the article. I feel like we had similar thoughts about these studies. While it does indicate that delayed gratification can affect a person’s life, it is not the one factor that will make or break the person they become as an adult. We both agreed that the environment one lives in can greatly alter how they are shaped. I completely agreed with your statement that read “Whether intelligence or delayed gratification will be a greater cause of success will simply depend on the person’s nature, and the ability to absorb from what is around them.” Everyone has to build their lives on what they experience and how they are raised. Overall, your analysis was very thorough and you included some great evidence to back up your points.

    • Ryan, many times when writers don’t take a stance and are “on the fence” about something their writing isn’t as powerful. That was not the case with your analysis. Even though you agreed and disagreed with Lehrer, your writing was still very strong. You made good points, had effective data, and wrote in a professional style. I particularly enjoyed how you used the information about your mom. It gave the reader a personal connection to you, which strengthened your argument. The facts about Edison were a nice touch too. I liked how you didn’t just accept what Lehrer was saying, but challenged what you read with outside information. I agree with you that who someone is at five years of age doesn’t determine who they are for the rest of their lives. Many people I have grown up with have changed since they were five in more ways than just growing taller. I have even seen bad students turn into good students, and it wasn’t because they were taking the pills from the movie Limitless. Overall, I thought you did a fantastic job of analyzing Lehrer’s article.

  3. Faith says:

    Jonah Lehrer can indeed write a captivating article, but was it captivating because of the topic or the results of the topic? Lehrer advances his thesis through facts and statistics, as well as fully explaining the outcomes of the tests which show results of delayed gratification. Thus his thesis being to delay gratification is the secret of self-control. True Lehrer does include biographical information about Mischel only to make himself seem like he knows what he is talking about. It is obvious that the author took the ethos appeal to show he is a credible source. Through the many written words and effort put forth by this man, an individual can become confident that Lehrer is knowledgeable about the subject. By having Mischel’s background, “In 1958, Mischel became an assistant professor in the Department of Social Relations at Harvard”, the readers can become comfortable and believe every written word. If it were any other person or not even mentioned at all, the article would not have been as appealing. Mischel was the key source to the testing and results of the entire experiment. To not have any of the information about delayed gratification would make the article weak as well as unbelievable and implausible.

    In regard to my own opinion, I agree with the article to a point. It does indeed take strength, will power, and above all else self-control. I specifically believed “the real challenge is turning those tricks into habits, and that requires years of diligent practice”. I do not, however, believe delayed gratification can be fully related to SAT scores or body mass. There is no proof within tests yet and tests do not always show accurate results.


    • Skylar T. King says:

      I enjoyed your response because the topic of the included background information on Mischel was one that i did not touch upon. I thought that if i were to answer that prompt in addition to the others, my writing would become too lengthy and distracted from my main point. That being said, the inclusion of such information as Mischel’s work at the Department of Social Relations at Harvard, as you quoted above, is an extremely important facet of Lehrer’s argument. I’ll admit to being drawn into believing Mischel’s results to be completely reliable when i read the article, but then i realized that there are too many uncontrolled factors to measure the path someone’s life will take. The basic principle are very logical; people who are successful and patient as kids tend to grow into successful and patient adults, but some of the correlations drawn, such as those to an adults body mass seem unfounded, no matter the “science” behind them. I do feel that most of the information is true, based on logic if nothing else, but for the overall strength and tightness of the article, Lehrer should realise that sometimes less is more.

  4. Skylar T. King says:

    Lehrer’s informative tone communicates and supports the results of the delayed gratification testing, which revealed that people who can undergo delayed gratification and maintain self control will be more successful in school and life, even score,”On average, 210 points higher,” on the S.A.T. than those who lack delayed gratification, who grow to be, “More likely to have behavioral problems, both at home and in school.”
    “Don’t” supports the idea that delayed gratification is more important than outright intelligence. I concur with this statement. It is far more important for someone to be able to make a problem work for their benefit than to be intelligent because, as Mischel points out, “Intelligence is largely at the mercy of self control.” It is a common enough effect that extremely intelligent people are often unorganized, lazy, and lack certain social graces, while someone who is forced to work to understand new concepts is more likely to be organized and efficient in planning their work and accomplishing it. This effect can be illustrated by the quote, “Hard work beats talent if talent fails to work hard.”
    Mischel began his study by observing the capacity for delayed gratification in over six hundred five year olds by using the “Marshmallow test.” He continued to study their success and behavior at regular intervals throughout the next couple decades, drawing correlations between the kids who could not resist eating the marshmallow quickly, choosing to forego the future reward of a second treat, and the young adults they grew into who “Struggled in stressful situations,” and, “Often had trouble paying attention.” Mischel’s results could be interpreted to mean that who we are at the age of five is the type of person we’re going to be for the rest of our lives, but this is not completely accurate. Although many of the individuals tested continued on the path that the behavior of their five year old self had indicated, there was a, “Substantial subset,” of people people who, having failed the marshmallow test at the age of four or five, still developed into, “High-delaying adults.” This means that people do not necessarily stay the way they were at age five. Instead, they have the ability to develop delayed gratification, and lead more successful lives.
    The informative tone used by Lehrer illustrates the fact that delayed gratification is more important to success than outright intelligence, and that people who displayed very little capacity for delayed gratification at the age of four or five, preffering to forsake the promise of a second marshmallow for an immediate taste of the first, still have the ability to develop into, “High-delaying adults,” with better chances for success in school and life. People often say that, “Two heads are better than one,” so why shouldn’t the same stand true for marshmallows?

  5. Katie Hilliker says:

    Which is greater, intelligence or delayed gratification? According to Jonah Lehrer, delayed gratification is more important. With this I agree. The skill of delayed gratification will take you further in life, thus giving it higher importance. As humans we will face many times where we will have to make choices between two things, and choosing which is more important. The marshmallow experiment is a good example of having delayed gratification and being able to wait for that second marshmallow makes a huge difference and it also shows self control. As Lehrer writes in the twenty fourth paragraph, “According to Mischel, this view of will power also helps explain why the marshmallow task is us such a powerfully predicative test. If you can deal with hot emotions, then you can study for the S.A.T instead of watching television, Mischel says, and you can save more money for retirement. It’s not just about marshmallows.” This comparison is one that I very strongly agree with and it’s for those reasons that I find delayed gratification to be more important.
    In regards to being a good student, the question of what is more important delayed gratification or intelligence arises again. This question is not a simple one to answer. Being intelligent is very important in a school setting because having the knowledge to succeed is a necessary key. However, even more necessary than success is delayed gratification, knowing what should come first, and knowing how to achieve it. School isn’t always about “being smart”, it’s about using delayed gratification to make wise choices to reach the point of succeeding.
    -Katie Hilliker

  6. I also agree with your opinion, Faith. Delayed gratification takes a tremendous amount of practice to achieve. I,too, wasn’t entirely convinced about his connection with the SAT and delayed gratification. I know a few people how are both and intelligent and have self control who still didn’t recieve the highest test scores. Other than that, the article was well written.

  7. Sorry, about the typo errors in the second to last sentence it should read: I know a few people who are intelligent and have self control who still didn’t recieve high test scores.

  8. Haley says:

    Lehrer’s article did produce some good insights and arguments. I agree with this article to a certain extent. While some of the results do prove that learning self-control could be beneficial to our society, I can’t help but question the threat to individualism. If we were all to produce the “desired” results in a test such as the marshmallow one, it would cause us to fall into a state of conformity. Everyone would be considered the “high-delayers” and it seems to be a matter of opinion if this would actually be better for our society. It all comes down to the importance of intelligence. Does everyone need to be above average, excelling students? Not everyone receives high test scores, yet they can be quite intelligent. I also don’t necessarily agree that this form of self-control and delayed gratification directly affects all of the listed notions such as having “behavioral problems, lower SAT scores, or difficulty in maintaining friendships.” I believe that many of these problems come from heredity, brain function, and environment. If children are not taught to have patience then they cannot expect to naturally pick it up. People generally grow up based on what they were taught as children and how they were raised. Therefore, a child that has been trained and is accustomed to “not snacking before dinner, or saving up your allowance, or holding out until Christmas morning” will have a better sense of delayed gratification. However, it then comes down to who’s responsibility is it to teach children character and discipline? I disagree that how you are born completely affects your abilities in life. While some children have the skills to delay gratification by the age of five, it is possible for anyone to gain patience later in life. Certain opportunities and experiences test the way we deal with things and build up our endurance for gratification.
    It is interesting that he correlates patience with choices and opportunities. By having more patience and the ability to wait for a better outcome, that does allow people to think about situations and not act out of impulse. However, I disagree that patience is the only way to obtain success in life. The author says “the key is to avoid thinking about it in the first place.” Our thoughts are a direct gateway to our actions. By thinking about doing something, it is lodged in our thoughts, and if it is not forgotten, it will eventually be acted out. Therefore, the children that were able to distract themselves from the marshmallow had the most success in holding out for the fifteen minutes. This argument greatly focuses on the logos appeal. Lehrer uses numerous statistics and examples to back up his reasoning. He states “intelligence is largely at the mercy of self-control.” This deems that intelligence lies in the hands of self-control. Although, while these two concepts do have some relations, intelligence is not a direct result of self-control. I don’t believe that self-control is greater than intelligence either. Everyone is born with a certain extent of self-control and intelligence, and both ideas can be affected by many different things. Both of these ideas can be strengthened by choice. While self-control and intelligence come naturally to some people over others, there is always potential for improvement.

    • Ryan Moeller says:


      I must say that you bring up some very unique points in this post that I have never thought of. You do an incredible job at analyzing multiple points of the article, and provide very good insights. One of my favorite things that you said was that if everyone produced the desired results, we would loose our individualism. This is an interesting thought. I very much agree that our world is overly focused on reaching standards, and I am now beginning to question why our standards are the way they are. Who determined that waiting to have the marshmallow is the right way? Why isn’t quickly acting also a desirable trait? You are very right in your analysis of the standardized testing, and in asking if having high S.A.T. scores is truly necessary. You mentioned later that a person’s delayed gratification strategies as well as other links to success are more linked to their raising than their birth. I agree that how a child is raised as a huge impact, and will often outweigh any other previously acquired factor. As for the rest of your article, I simply have no argument. In conclusion, I think you did a great job on this response, and I very much agree with every word you said.

      • EliO says:

        While the discussion of this article has presented some interesting points I believe Ryan and Haley are showing an interesting set of emphasizes and ideas. The invocation of ideas of individualism versus conformity is a strongly resonant theme to me as it is a focus both of political debates I have been in comparing systems as well as the most important part of being a teenager, discovering your own persona. However I also find the questioning of the usefulness of SAT scores as a method of analysis to provoke some questions I hope I can answer. Though high SAT scores are not universally required for happiness the original article appears in The New Yorker, a magazine with rather educated and scholarly viewpoints, this means that academic abilities would probably be valued over say, physical skills that some groups or societies would promote. However the other thing about standardized tests that this brings up is that they are a standard, being based on an average if something moves most people’s scores higher than the test will become more difficult and, regrettably, vice-versa. However as both of them bring up someone being bad at tests does not necessarily make them less intelligent, it could be a part of their own mindset or some other factor, and anyone will know something useful any other given person will not and can teach it to them. However the final point connecting to this theme of whether the benefits matter or not is the view of these effects in society, a classical example would be the cultures of Athens and Sparta, both were well known for specializing and being very good at the mental and physical arts respectively. However which was the greater city is still a topic of debate for modern scholars. In closing it should be noted that while rashness is a flaw waiting to long can be just as destructive, something I have seen in fields as diverse as sports, social interaction, the stock market, and even romance.

  9. Ashley Richards says:

    Out of all the studies Jonah Lehrer presented us with there are studies that I do agree with and studies that I do not. I agree with “…he noticed that low delayers, the children who rang the bell quickly, seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home. They got lower S.A.T. scores. They struggled in stressful situation, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships.” Delayed gratification is a desirable skill to obtain. Without this skill it is hard to deal with situations, excel in time consuming activities, focus, and build long lasting relationships. All the situations listed above involve time and patience and without the skill of delayed gratification it can make the tasks 10x harder to accomplish. I also agree with “…low delaying adults have significantly higher body-mass index and are more likely to have problems with drugs.” Containing a healthy life style and being strong enough to resist the “escape” drugs create requires the skill of delayed gratification because the results you want to see in your life don’t always magically appear. They take time and patience which requires the skill of delayed gratification. I agree that being a low delayer would make one more prone to be like that, but high delayers deal with the same problems. After all we are all human and nowhere close to being perfect. I disagree with, “The early appearance of the ability to delay suggests that it has a genetic origin, an example of personality at its most predetermined.” Everyone has a chance to be who they want to be. Your attitude and the way you deal with situations is always a choice. You have the choice to have patience and practice delayed gratification as well as giving in and not practicing it. Yes, this skill can be harder for others, but everyone has the choice to wait or give in. Your character determines your success.
    When it comes to deciding which is more important to be a good student, delayed gratification overrides intelligence. Yes intelligence allows you to succeed, but intelligence without delayed gratification will get one nowhere. I am a successful student and always have been because I practice delayed gratification. I necessarily am not book smart, but I know how to work hard and get tasks done. Delayed gratification allows me to realize my desired results may not come easily or right away, but in the long run if I am patience it will be much more rewarding rather than having it come natural or handed to me. When it comes to doing your homework or hanging out with friends delayed gratification allows you the ability to resist hanging out with friends until after your homework is done. If you were intelligent, but lacked delayed gratification you would put yourself in the situation of rushing and producing a paper that only exemplifies half of your potential because you didn’t have the strength to resist or delayed gratification as a tool. Delayed gratification teaches one to be thankful for what they have because they have to work for it, therefore giving it meaning. Delayed gratification is more important than intelligence to be a good student.

  10. Jonah Lehrer writes an article, entitled “Don’t”, that uses the infamous “marshmallow test” as a primary example to get in depth with the term delayed gratification. Later on, though, it’ll be revealed that delayed gratification is only part of his thesis. In the beginning, the description of the marshmallow test is almost humorous. The images of four-year-old children sitting with a scrumptious marshmallow in front of them covering their eyes to resist temptation, while others give in within a minute, is made so laughable that it might distract from the experiments crucial point: to study the metal processes of delayed gratification. In this test less than half of the children were able to delay gratification. These experiments would soon lead to a deeper hypothesis on the connection between delayed gratification and academic triumph for those children as they matured to teens. Walter Mischel, the leader of the experiment, was the one to discover this connection. He tried to reason with it. Was it a trait? He went on to try to find an answer. Mischel came to find that the children who delayed gratification were able to score higher on their S.A.T than the impatient children. An interesting observation, however, interjecting my own opinion I would have to disagree with the connection between delayed gratification and high SAT scores. Some people have days when they’re not up to their full capacity and perhaps don’t test as well. In addition to this, I know people who are both intelligent and self-controlling and still didn’t have a high test score. Despite my personal opinion, Mischel advances from this and tracks these kids into their adulthood seeing a trend that the “low-delayers” had a “higher body-mass index and are more likely to have had problems with drugs”. However, more needs to be done to find the root of self-control. Then Mischel makes a connection with self-control and intelligence. It takes two to tango and “even the smartest kids still need to do their homework”.

    Mischel’s commitment to his research was a manifestation that started early on in his life. After enduring the taunting of the Hitler Youth in Vienna, Austria as a child, Mischel soon came to the United States where he studied the arts and developed his attraction to psychoanalysis. This is where his ideas embedded themselves. As personality testing was being conducted Mischel had futile success. He realized “academic theories had limited application”. Mischel then begun his first unofficial self control experiment: it was between two groups of people, East Indian and African descent, who stereotyped each other. It had the same principle as the marshmallow test but with chocolate bars. Unfortunately, this didn’t justify the stereotypes, but it did turn the gears in his head about the potential to measure someone’s self-control. “Personality assessments” continued with failed results. Then an experiment done with children at a summer camp spurred more possibilities. Children who were teased by peers reacted aggressively, but when disciplined by an adult they submitted. The environment affected the child. This leading to an “if-then” pattern: “If a certain child was teased by a peer, then he would be aggressive.” This insight into Mischel’s background gives another dimension to understanding how this testing of self-control developed. At first Lehrer discusses the marshmallow test and what the results were. Well, how did the idea came about? Who developed this “marshmallow test”? Mischel is the answer. He used the aspects of the marshmallow test to develop his ideas until they were mature enough to be executed in an organized test. In a nutshell, Mischel is like historical background to how the marshmallow test was started.

    If personalities are like cars with defects then people’s responses need to be looked at under particular conditions. For example, if you’re testing a four-year-old’s will power with food, then its necessary to know what foods they’ll hunger for the most. Therefore, the children’s self-control in the marshmallow experiment depended on how much they wanted the marshmallow. This leads to the question of what is considered self-control? The other children thought that staring straight at the marshmallow, keeping their eye on the prize, would be the solution to self-control. On the contrary, it had the opposite effect. Well, the children who were successful in delaying gratification found ways to distract themselves from temptation such as closing their eyes or singing to themselves. They didn’t quench their desire but kept it at bay enough to make it tolerable. From this Mischel says, “The key is to avoid thinking about it in the first place.” It’s all about practice; even doing simple metal tricks can increase the ability of self-control. Mischel presses on to say that it’s crucial for parents to give their children self-control “rituals” so they’ll be educated in willpower. This is where the other part of Lehrer’s thesis comes in: there’s first the idea of delayed gratification and then it’s concluded with how to obtain it. This point that Mischel makes about parents helping children develop self-control supports the idea that delayed gratification can be learned. After all, a four-year-old is still developing mentally and physically; if they fail the marshmallow test there’s still time to develop good habits. Perhaps those who failed never practiced delayed gratification and therefore never gained the skills. If they did, they could be right alongside where the “good” children are . Overall, this article is very agreeable; minus a few of the testing comparisons that I mentioned earlier. Delayed gratification needs to be practiced; it’ll give success to everyone.

  11. Lehrer’s serious tone emphasizes his strong feelings towards delayed gratification and its relation to how successful people are. “Self-control is one of the fundamental character strengths” and “If you can deal with hot emotions, then you can study for the S.A.T.’s instead of watching television” both convey Lehrer’s contemplative attitude towards this subject. He believes that people who understand and can wait for gratification, will be more successful in life then those who do not possess this skill. Lehrer uses logos to argue his stance. The amount and variety of evidence that Lehrer used contributes to his serious, knowledgeable tone. This adds to his image as a credible source of information. He provides anecdotal evidence about his own daughters and their peers, as well as, factual data. His daughter’s peers had taken the test before, and Lehrer found a correlation between their ability to wait and their academic success. This alone isn’t enough to prove anything. Lehrer knows this and backs up his argument with factual evidence of comparing S.A.T. scores with the test of delayed gratification. He found that the people who did better on the delayed gratification test achieved higher S.A.T. scores.
    Lehrer leaves unanswered questions like whether or not it is more important to have intelligence or delayed gratification, student wise. He also contemplates whether one can learn delayed gratification and whether who someone is at age five is who they will be for the rest of their life. I agree with Lehrer that delayed gratification and success go hand in hand. Delayed gratification is important to success. Intelligence alone isn’t everything. Possessing a brilliant mind will not lead directly to a successful life. Throughout my career as a student, I have seen many “intelligent” people, who are unable to delay gratification in cases like procrastination, be unsuccessful in school. Delayed gratification is basically the ability to wait in return for a later reward. It is a very simple concept which is why I believe it can be taught. “When he and his colleagues taught children a simple set of mind tricks…dramatically improved their self-control” shows that delayed gratification or at least mind tricks to help self-control can be learned. Since this is a skill that can be learned, who someone is at age five does not represent who exactly they will become. Even though delayed gratification has an impact on success, “it might still be overwhelmed by variables scientists can’t control.”

    • Tara Williams says:

      Kennedy, I really enjoyed reading your response the article. I liked that you used the sentence structure we’ve been working on in class. I also appreciated your use of the word logos, which again shows that you are applying what we learn to your work. I completely agree with what you said in your response too, and I liked that you mentioned the ‘unanswered questions.’ It shows that you were paying enough attention to what you were reading to ask questions, and then realize that the question wasn’t answered. Good job!

  12. Faith says:

    Haley, you had a very well written analysis of the “Don’t” article. I loved how you pulled outside information and placed it within your work. It truly showed your ability to comprehend the article. I can see why praise is a common reward for you. You and I had very similar ideas, but you took it one step further and elaborated your thoughts. For example, “I also don’t necessarily agree that this form of self-control and delayed gratification directly affects all of the listed notions such as having “behavioral problems, lower SAT scores, or difficulty in maintaining friendships.” I specifically agreed with you when you wrote about environment. Your golden sentence “Our thoughts are a direct gateway to our actions”, definitely summarizes your thoughts on this topic. Overall, you are a very talented writer.

  13. Stephanie Baker says:

    Initially, one would think intelligence is more crucial to being a good student than delaying gratification. However, I think delaying gratification is more important than intelligence to being a good student. It does not matter how smart people are, if they cannot put off doing fun activities until their work is done; it is impossible to be a successful student. To Mischel, delayed gratification is closely related to the ability to have “strategic allocation of attention.” When people can distract themselves from the thing they desire, they give the impression that they have delayed gratification. In reality, they are merely distracting themselves. Thus, having the ability to distract oneself long enough to do their studies is critical to being a strong student.

    Mischel’s findings were that test scores were improved by having the ability to delay gratification, not intelligence alone. Additionally, his findings proved that delayed gratification can be taught. Since Mischel believes that delayed gratification is simply distracting and making the situation work for oneself, I agree that delayed gratification can be taught. Children need to be given the tools necessary to distracting themselves from what they want. Mischel and his colleagues were able to teach delayed gratification by teaching “children a simple set of mental tricks- such as pretending that the candy is only a picture, surrounded by an imaginary frame- he dramatically improved their self-control.” However, I also agree with Mischel when he states, “…the real challenge is turning those tricks into habits, and that requires years of diligent practice.” It doesn’t matter how many mental tricks the child learns to distract themselves, if they can not make the tricks habits, they are useless.
    -Stephanie Baker

    • Morgan M. says:

      You did an excellent job of summarizing and showing your understanding of the article. I loved how you started off with your own opinion on the topic, but then showed how your opinion was changed and affected after you read. This shows me that you not only comprehended what was happening, but could also apply it to your own thoughts. Your quotes were the perfect length; it makes a point while not overwhelming the rest of the sentence. It was interesting how you followed a similar structure as to how Lehrer presented his ideas. The diction was very clear and easy to understand while still sounding informed as well. I like that you didn’t over complicate it with fancy words when you could get your points across with more simplistic style. Overall, it was a well thought out essay. Nice job 🙂

  14. Tasha Mckibben says:

    Throughout the article “Don’t,” author Jonah Lehrer provides insight into what delayed gratification really means and how those who possess such characteristics excel compared to those who lack them. Although, Mischel states that “In general, trying to separate nature and nurture makes about as much sense as trying to separate personality and situation,” I related the various studies to deciphering between nature and nurture from the very beginning. Despite his statement, he continues to test hereditary and monitor the brain for such traits and where they come from. Such experimentation would inevitably lead to a difference between nature and nurture. Also contradicting his own previous statement, “Mischel gave delay-of-gratification tasks to children from low-income families in the Bronx, he noticed that their ability to delay was below average, at least compared with that of children in Palo Alto.” Here he suggests that how a child is raised and what opportunities they have experienced play a role in the ability to delay gratification.
    Even though his position on nature vs. nurture remains conflicting, I agree with most of his other findings. It seems almost irrefutable that “the children who rang the bell quickly, seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home. They got lower S.A.T. scores. They struggled in stressful situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships.” The high-delayers’ ability to “find a way to make the situation work for them,” allows them to apply this skill to other aspects of their life. This is why I find it more important in school to be able to delay gratification rather than be simply intelligent, because if you can set your mind to be able to resist temptations in order to get what you want, you can do anything you set your mind to. Those who are unable to focus on what is most important wouldn’t be able to prioritize, ultimately leading to choosing fun things over what would be better for them in the long run, such as homework or studying.

    • Alexi says:


      I admire how you found all the contradictions to the text! I do not believe Mischel can claim he is not separating nature from nurture when the descriptions of his experiments clearly point to that. However, though I personally agree with Mischel that “Trying to separate nature and nurture makes about as much sense as trying to separate personality and situation.” I also can not think of any experiment that would be on the side of both nature and nurture. There would be not be enough controlled variables. Maybe Mischel is staying true to both nature and nurture by devising experiments that deal with both. However, that brings up the question of how accurate the experiments really are when compared with real life if both have an effect. On a different note, I agree with your statements about how learning to delay gratification is more important than intelligence in school. I especially how you linked the delayed gratification to prioritizing. I would have never thought of that connection, but it makes a lot of sense. Being able to prioritize is the only way to really shine in school in my opinion. In my personal opinion there is no possible way to take advanced classes, get good grades, and do other school activities without prioritization.


    • Dr. Mr. Woodrow "Big Dawg" Moore says:

      To my dearest Tasha,
      Not only do I concure with your analysis, but I admire your keen eye for contradictions and evidence! I like how you used good examples from the text to follow up your ideas, such as on the subject of nature versus nurture by debating how the experiments taken by Mischel may lead to inacurate results because they seperate the possibilities of success being caused by hereditary genes, or personal dedications which are directly linked to delayed gratification or intelligence. I also agree with the idealism made that delayed gratification, if not the one key to future success, plays at least a small key role in becoming a more successfull adult in younger aging years. This discipline, as you said, can help with developing habits like prioritizing work and learning to expell negative temptations like doing homework instead of watching television, or even procrastinating on doing your work until the wee little hours of the morn. I appreciate your sense of annotating and analizing of the passage given, and by what you have responded with I feel you understood the not just overt but also complicated ideas of the article. I do, however for constructive criticisms sake, feel that although you had GREAT evidence supporting your ideas, maybe try spreading out the quotes because it felt slightly convoluted. But that is my only criticism and I believe you did a marvelous job my dear!

  15. Rebekah says:

    In Jonah Lehrer’s “Don’t!” there is a great argument as to whether or not learning patience at a young age is effective later in life. As explained, the marshmallow experiment tests the patience of children around the age of four by placing them in a room with a single marshmallow. If the child so chooses, they may eat it but would be rewarded double the amount if they decided to wait. But why is it important, or even necessary? To Walter Mischel, it was “to identify the mental processes that allowed some people to delay gratification while others simply surrendered.” in other words, learning to use self control.
    I cannot say for sure whether I agree with Mischel or not. I can, however, concur with the fact that learning self control at a younger age can simply affect a child’s later life. Lehrer made the connection with high school students and how they can learn composure and do their homework rather than sit on the computer or watch television. I can relate. When I have countless amounts of homework, I know that my mind likes to create a list of activities that I would rather be doing. But learning self discipline can go a long way. He goes on to explain that the low delayers, “the children who rang the bell quickly” seemed more likely to have behavioral problems at home and school, and also got lower S.A.T. scores. But that cannot be proved true for every child. I do not believe that who you are at the age of five portrays who you are for the rest of your life. As we grow older, we are taught to learn from our mistakes; of course it’s different for every child, so it can also vary. Some may take their mistakes and learn to change their way of life. (It also takes maturity and a lot of practice). It’s all a matter of nurture.
    It’s hard to tell what makes the qualities of a “good student”. As I mentioned earlier, everyone is different so the case may vary. I know many people who have great self control but may not be what we see as “intelligent” (and vice versa). Mischel argues that “intelligence is largely at the mercy of self-control” meaning that one can be an intellectual, but without self control cannot prove themselves. Take Einstein for instance. Einstein was BRILLIANT. But he had no communicative skills. If you were to meet him on the streets, you would’ve thought he was as dumb as a rock. Just because you have intelligence does NOT mean you’re going to have every aspect of your life in order.

    • Bekah, I greatly enjoyed your response to the “Don’t” article by Mr. Lehrer. The final paragraph is what really made the response the excellent work it is. Your real example and enthusiastic reaction gave me great insight to the concept of how intelligence is perceived to other people. Although one may be uncommunicative or lack slightly in the social department, such as Einstein, a person may be much more than they appear initially. Of course, the same logic is relevant vice-versa, whereas people may exhibit great social skills or self-control but be unable to figure out 2 + 2 = 4. A person in the middle of such two classes of human may respond with the answer of “two plus two equals fish”, something not many do know the correct answer to if you do not approach the matter from a different perspective than others may. That is how humans should approach the matter of intelligence verses self-control: whichever one appears dominant in a person, always remember that humans vary greatly, and no two are completely alike. Humans are funny like that, and it is enjoyable seeing examples of this principle everyday.
      ~Caitlin G.

    • Bekah, you do well to be straight forward and to the point. I agreed with your point about how who you are at age five doesn’t determine who you are for the rest of you life. Every child IS different. It also depends on their parents and whether or not they teach their children about self-control. I also enjoyed your reference to Einstein. How could’ve guest his intelligence? No one is perfect; it’s impossible for anyone to have their entire life in order. So, I can “concur” with you that behavioral problems do depend on the child and what values are taught. Go show friend!

  16. Jenna Best says:

    As far as the findings of the study go, I find it hard to disagree with results. Either way, they do make sense. It’s only natural that someone who is able to refrain from doing something they really want to do, because they know refraining from it will have better consequences, is more likely to be more successful at life. There are exceptions to everything, of course, but I believe that in general, people who are able to control themselves are going to excel further than those who can’t/don’t.
    Concerning the subject of intelligence or delayed gratification being more important, I don’t believe there’s a huge difference. Intelligence is not a gift granted to only a few- It’s something that can be cultivated in everyone. It’s not a matter of simply having it or not. Delayed gratification, or self discipline in other words, is something that must be learned by an individual, and self discipline is one of the main tools for cultivating intelligence. As shown by the study, children who had an easier time refraining from eating the marshmallow were more likely to have higher test scores, etc. Because they were able to wait to eat the marshmallow, they are also more likely to do their homework or study rather than doing whatever else it is they want to do. Granted, this may not be the case for the very few who are gifted with inexplicable genius, but that’s more a matter or brain wiring than anything else, and doesn’t count in this circumstance. In general, self discipline/self control/delayed gratification/whatever you want to call it, is the road to intelligence, which is the road to being a good student and more importantly, just being successful in any way.
    Finally, pertaining to the matter of staying how you were when you were 5, I believe that, unless you live in an extremely static environment where nothing changes, you are bound to go through some adjustments in your life. While some of our basic interests may develop when we’re around that age, at such a young age you’re quite susceptible to change. People can go through massive shifts at any age, and any one event is capable of changing you profoundly. So it’s doubtful that anyone is still the way they were when they were 5. That’s why they call it childhood.

    • Katie Hilliker says:

      I found your response to be very interesting and well written. As you make the point of the article clear, you are short and to the point. This shows me that you understood what the author was talking about. One of the many golden sentences I found in your response was, “In general, self discipline/self control/delayed gratification/whatever you want to call it, is the road to intelligence, which is the road to being a good student and more importantly, just being successful in any way.” I really appericate how you gave delayed gratification different names, it allowed for more understanding. It’s very apparent that you have skill in writing and I really enjoyed your response.

  17. Kiara McCarther says:

    In Jonah Lehrer’s article, Don’t: The Secret Control, he brought to the table the many different types of experiments conducted by Walter Mischel and the evidence that came along with them. One of these experiments most popular was the “Marshmallow Test”. In conducting this test Mischel proposed that this showed which of the 4 year old children were patient and which were not. He then went on to say that the children who did show as the most patient were to enjoy greater success in their future as adults compared to the impatient children. I, however, disagree with this proposal. First of all, every child is indeed different. No one merely stays the same as they age in life and that leads me in defense of the impatient children. They all most likely would have changed very dramatically since they were the age of four. When a child is that young there are still a lot of things for them to learn and I’m most positive that once you put a piece of sugar like that in front of them and only promise one more 15 minutes later them waiting isn’t very accurate.
    Now when it comes to being a student in school i think intelligence can override delayed gratification.Part of growing is learning and there are some things that individuals do faster than others. When Mischel brought up S.A.T scores he seemed to focus mainly on the children who were impatient during the “Marshmallow Test” and claimed “They got lower S.A.T scores. They struggled in stressful situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships”. So yeah, this may have had been true about their test scores being lower than the patient kids but how do you know why the more impatient kid had trouble in stressful situations and keeping friendships? Or that maybe the patient kids go through the same thing? Maybe that individual just had never been a good test taker. Mischel never did go into any detail about how the patient children dealt with other problems in life because they had the test scores that were on average and that were “two hundred and ten points higher”. Somebodies S.A.T scores are not a determiner of how their life turns out to be. Even colleges don’t base their whole acceptance criteria on the applicants S.A.T. scores. Yes, they are a big deal to them but there are also other qualities about that applicant that they have to look at. Same goes for if someone were to apply to a job. The interviewer isn’t going to look at that persons resume and base their whole thoughts on whether or not they attended the best college or if they were the most patient child in the “Marshmallow Test”, there are plenty of other areas for them to look into.
    To end my point, i just felt like Mischel could have done a better job on how he judged his experiments on people.

  18. Kiara McCarther says:

    In reply to Allissa. First of i thnk you had a very well put together and intelligent essay. I completely do agree with you on how Mischel shouldnt just focus on judging the individuals who were the “impatient” ones of the test. People do change and grow with age and i think you had some very valid points on that. One example you threw out there was about extending the marshmallow test and you said “If they had been tested for maybe an hour then the ones that were able to wait may have gotten more impatient the longer they sat there”. I thought this was a great example and was a good point to help cover your whole point in you response. Good Job 🙂 -Kiara

  19. Morgan M. says:

    It is Lehrer’s belief that developing will power and self control allows for delayed gratification and therefore more success. By teaching this to children at an early age, it would provide a better future to all. He advances this quite well, using sound facts from Mischel’s experiments, particularly the “marshmallow test,” which he follows throughout the article, as well as others’ experiments. He uses studies done by other researchers like Duckworth, who did experiments similar to Mischel’s, to help back the findings. With this, Lehrer develops logos and proves that his opinions are supported up by other studies. Despite having such support, I find the experiment itself, which is the basis of Lehrer’s entire argument, not nearly dependable enough to be believable. Perhaps if the test was given to a more mature and developed age group it would have produced more reliable data. Even Mischel proves this by talking about how his own children “gradually learned how to delay and how that made so many other things possible.” For this reason, I disagree with Lehrer’s thesis on the premise that I do not agree with the studies he uses to prove it.
    Why test on subjects as young as nineteen months old if they will only improve as they mature? Tests aren’t necessarily needed to figure out that a child gets better at waiting for Christmas presents as they get older. It is a much better idea to wait until subjects are in their teens or early twenties to test whether their self control will ultimately determine the subjects’ success in life. I don’t believe that children are fully set in their ways by the age of four or five. If American citizens have to wait until they turn eighteen to make informed decisions as a legal adult, then how can they be tested before this age and be expected to make decisions that will determine their future success? Mischel’s experiment supports my theory that results are potentially unreliable. He stated that many of the children who did poorly on the original test ended up very successful. By waiting until these determining traits are more developed, he could have more reliable data while still improving their lives. I believe that although will power and self control are important for a successful future, they are not directly linked to accomplishment. Lehrer uses Mischel’s experiment to say that children excelling at delaying gratification will lead to better futures, yet opposes this by stating that many children were still successful even without passing the marsmallow test. Because of this contradiction in the facts Lehrer presents, I cannot agree with his thesis, because his evidence doesn’t prove anything, it merely supports it under certain circumstances.

    • Stephanie Baker says:

      Morgan, your response is very well thought out. I liked how in your second paragraph, your pointed out that “If American citizens have to wait until they turn eighteen to make informed decisions as a legal adult, then how can they be tested before this age and be expected to make decisions that will determine their future success?” This is a way of thinking about the tests that I never considered. After you stated your opinion of Mischel’s study not being “dependable enough to be believable,” I like how you took your response to the next level by providing the alternative of the experiment being given to a more mature age group to produce more dependable results. Overall, your response provided readers with multiple points to consider.

    • Ashley Richards says:

      Morgan, I felt that you really understood the article because it is clearly shown in your response. I find it impressive when readers disagree with what the author is saying instead of always just agreeing. It shows that you really thought deeply about it. I like the argument you proposed. I didn’t focus on that question, which made it all the more interesting and enlightening. I liked that you used the term “logos.” It shows that you understand what is being taught in class. It also makes you sound more sophisticated. I agree with, “Lehrer uses Mischel’s experiment to say that children excelling at delaying gratification will lead to better futures, yet opposes this by stating that many children were still successful even without passing the marshmallow test.” Like you said he contradicts himself. I also liked how you tied everything together by stating, “Because of this contradiction in the facts Lehrer presents, I cannot agree with his thesis, because his evidence doesn’t prove anything, it merely supports it under certain circumstances.” It shows that you were able to prove your argument. Overall I enjoyed reading your response.

  20. ashlyntaylor says:

    Lehrer uses an impersonal tone to lure his readers into an entriging yet very insightful article. Delayed gratification is something I think all human beings should have, however those who don’t are not entirley doomed like the article portrays, I think the article hypes the delayed gratification to a point where readers believe that every child at the age of five needs to be able to wait fifteen minuets for a marshmallow. Yes, Lehrer backs up all of his points with data from actuall studies, and the results are suprising, but every child is different. Every child grows up with different parents who may or may not teach them right from wrong. In some house holds it is okay to give the child what they want when they want it. In others parents are more strict and you must wait for what you want, some children can be born with it thats a given, others can learn just becasue some dont have the abilty for delayed gratification at age five doesnt mean they cant develop the strategey over a period of time. I do agree with the fact that being capable of having delayed gratification is important. I also believe that being a good student is very important also, however, I do not believe that delayed gratification affects your SAT scores or behaviorl problems. Intellegent students can still get lower scores on tests. The children who were said to have delayed gratification also were said to have behavirol problems, did you look at their backround? What their parents were like? What their home life was like? This all has a huge impact on children. So no I find myself disagreeing with this article for the most part that delayed gratification may have a minor part in the lower SAT scores or behaviriol problems. I do believe that its important to have and that those children who have learned the task at a young age will go farther in life, delayed gratification is something that can always be learned no matter if you are five or fifty.

    • Allissa Holt says:

      Ashlyn, I completely agree with your response. You basically have the same opinion that I have about the article. The marshmallow test is not an accurate way to base a child’s learning ability or personality. There are many other circumstances that can contribute to a person’s S.A.T. scores. It could be a result of carelessness since it is unproven that every person tries to do their best on the S.A.T. Also, parents sometimes make their student take the S.A.T. causing the student to not care about doing well. The article does make delayed gratification look like something that is required to be successful in life. I agree that some children are born with it and some are not. The fact that a child could wait for the marshmallow is most likely not because they practice waiting every day. They are just naturally more patient than other children. However, that does not mean that a child that cannot wait is needs to learn delayed gratification or they will not be successful. I think your response explains that point very well.

  21. Tara Williams says:

    There are many things that can contribute to being a good student. While being intellingent is important, you also have to be able to delay gratification. The latter is more important in my opinion. There are plenty of people that are inelligent and aren’t successful, but it’s due to their lack of self-discipline. On the other hand, there are people that may not be the best in school, but they work hard enough to get good grades. They have enough self-restraint to study or do homework instead of watch TV, hang out with friends, or spend too much time on Facebook like I do. Intelligence alone doesn’t always qualify to being a good student; Delayed gratification must be involved.
    I also think that who you are at the age of five doesn’t mean that’s who you will be for the rest of your life. People always change over time, whether they mean to or not. You become like your five closest friends, and who you are friends with changes and varies over the years so you change too. Sometimes people are unhappy with who they are so they make a conscious change, which is hopefully for the better. Therefore, I do not think that who you are at five years old dictates who you will be forever.

    • Jennie Brons says:

      Tara, I like how you pointed out that becoming a good student takes intelligence or delayed gratification, you can’t just instantly become a successful student. I agree with who you are at five years old is not who you are your entire life. It is a good point that you become like your five closest friends, because they shape your personality. I also really liked your word choice in the first paragraph.

    • Savannah Steffens says:

      I agree with what you have to say about Lehrers thoughts on his article. Although, you should include more text evidence to prove what you think. “There are plenty of people that are intelligent and aren’t successful, but its due to their lack of self-discipline.” I agree with this quote you said 100%. It shows that you understood what Lehrer was saying and stating your own opinion about his passage. Some people have a very strong suit in one subject but are not successful because they don’t want to take the other classes at school to fulfill their career. I agree with everything that you had to say, but next time choose text evidence to improve your response, and to prove your thoughts:)

    • Vincent Sciglibaglio says:

      Really enjoyed how you organized your essay. It was short, sweet, and to the point. You didn’t write much but you didn’t have to. You got all your thoughts out in so little but i understood everything! It was easy to follow and I loved how you put your own examples into it such as “spend too much time on Facebook like I do”. It was really ironic because right before I started to type this the first thing I did was go to Facebook. I agree with what you say about how you tend to be like your friends whether it be because your changed to be like them or are just like them in general. Very clean and short essay and I enjoyed all of it.

  22. Alexi says:

    The biographical information provided by Lehrer in “Don’t!” about Mischel was included to advance the strategies of ethos, pathos, and logos in his article, especially concerning Mischel. By introducing Mischel as “The Stanford professor of psychology in charge of the experiment,” ethos is automatically introduced. Stanford is one of the most prestigious schools in the country, and to be a professor there gives Mischel high credentials. Lehrer is pressing that the reader should trust Mischel’s findings because of his education and enlightened position. This is the practice of ethos in its essence. However, as the article continues Mischel questions the practices of other professors with the same credentials. Mischel “flinches” at the “naivete” of diagnoses based on “a battery of meaningless tests”. If Lehrer is to continue using the strategy of ethos through Mischel he has to make Mischel’s own life into a credential and start using pathos. By adding biographical information like the fact that “Walter found a long-forgotten certificate of U.S. citizenship issued to his maternal grandfather decades earlier, thus saving his family,” the reader is most likely to see a boy who came from a very rough background, but was resourceful and still manged to become a professor. Lehrer is subtly making Mischel into an example of a “high delayer”, and one to be admired. By using Lehrer’s first name and making him a hero from this rough background the reader is most likely going to admire the man, and find his results creditable. To establish more creditability and to create an emotional connection to the reader is to practice ethos and pathos. Then by demonstrating how many different ways Mischel has come to the same conclusion in different settings over his life he also practices logos through Mischel’s biographical information. If such a creditable and trustworthy man is finding the same results through numerous studies, then the reader is likely to believe that Mischel’s conclusions are logical. All the biographical information on Mischel provided by Lehrer is needed material for Lehrer to advance his use of ethos, pathos, and logos in the article “Don’t”.

    To be a good student I believe one must practice the act of delayed gratification rather than rely on a high IQ because hard work is behind all success. Lehrer writes that “Mischel (a professor of psychology at Stanford University) argues that intelligence is largely at the mercy of self-control: even the smartest kids still need to do their homework.” I believe this statement. Intelligence can help solve a problem quicker, but to reach a goal or actually solve the problem work must be accomplished. One has to wait and work hard for the best results, which is practicing delayed gratification. In my own life, I have a family member with a genius level IQ, but throughout his life he strove to find the easy way out. He never wanted to work, and now most of the family does not speak to him and he is living on welfare. If one does not wait and work for the bigger prize then they settle for lower achieving. A good student has to work and “do their homework” to maintain their good grades. That is why I believe that practicing delayed gratification is more important to being a good student than raw intelligence.

    People learn and change and that is why I believe that who someone is at age five does not dictate who someone is for the rest of their life, therefore, people can learn delayed gratification. In some of Walter Mischel’s studies on delayed gratification he and his colleagues “taught children a simple set of mental tricks-such as pretending that the candy is only a picture, surrounded by an imaginary frame” this “dramatically improved their self-control”. If small suggestions can produce instant results then children can learn to delay gratification and make it a habit. The fact that children can improve their time of waiting is evidence that if they work hard enough (part of delaying gratification) then they can make those improvements habit. Also in the article “Don’t!” it is mentioned that there is a “substantial subset of people who failed the marshmallow task as four-year-olds but ended up becoming high-developing adults.” If there are people who did not practice delayed gratification as children, but naturally do as adults then it is only logical to assume that it is possible to learn and that who someone is at fifteen is not who they are automatically going to be forever. People have taught themselves how learn and change to become one of delayed gratification, so they can also be taught.

  23. Understanding the human thought process, whether the actions are in our genes or learned through time, is a challenging goal. The article is titled “Don’t: The Secret of Self Control” for good reason, as Jonah Lehrer describes the experimental process of literally telling a child not to eat a treat. As a reward, the child would receive more treats than originally promised, but they would have to wait for a certain period of time in order to do so. This experiment, created and run by Walter Mischel, is designed to test the resistance of children to self-gratification, not through mental willpower but through learned diversions a child uses to advert their attention elsewhere, so as not to give in to temptation. However, temptation is not always the reason children may give in (although it does play a leading factor should the child stare directly into the fluffy goodness of the marshmallow and become enraptured by its soft, squishy interior).

    When one is 5 years of age, one generally does not care whether or not they get a single marshmallow right away, or whether they receive more later simply by creating a plan and waiting the time out. It certainly does help should the child distract themselves, as proven in the testing, and this test does show results of children growing older and having more self-control over themselves and over important matters such as S.A.T. studying and homework solving methods. One must also make note of the matter, however, that at the same time most people cannot even recall what they were like at age 4 or 5 (like Carolyn Weisz), and thus do not know whether they have changed or not while growing older. Experiences in life change a person’s habits, thought-processes, and perspectives on life. A well-off child may be inclined to take the marshmallow whenever they wish, because they are used to getting what they want. Then, five or six years later the child’s family might lose their money in the stock market, and the child will grow into a teen feeling the weight of poverty weighing down upon their shoulders. Then the teen would feel more inclined to wait out the allotted time, accepting the second marshmallow (or dollar bills at this point), placing more value on the items than they had as a child. Experiences in one’s life changes who we are, our characteristics, and how we view life. Things are not always the same from when we are young, nor are all of the same in different situations.

    Onto the brief subject of Mischel’s biographical information included in length in the essay. Although lengthy, it served a valuable source for readers to judge whether or not the inventor and tester of the marshmallow experiment could be biased in any area of the process based on his past experiences in life. However, as useful as this information could be in determining a bias within the testing process, I highly doubt that such substantial amounts of information were really needed for the purpose intended. The point got across, and that was enough. No need to go into such lengthy details of his biography when the point of the article is focused on the results and process of the test.

    Intelligence is of considerable more importance than self-control. Not to say, of course, that self-control is not imperative for a person to be in possession of. That is hardly the case at all. A smart person must have a solid grasp of self-control as well as a sharp intellectual mind in order to proceed through life with any intent to succeed. Take Duckworth’s example of the dollar bill delay gratification experiment. If an eighth grader were to take the dollar bill right away, they would lose out on obtaining more money by waiting just one week. Her findings showed that children who waited generally proved to result in higher academic performances rather than larger I.Q.’s. “intelligence is really important, but it’s still not as important as self-control.” I debate this strongly.

    I feel as though it is not the self-control which is the sole indicator of higher academic standings, but rather a varying mixture of both self-control and intelligence. The eighth grader (almost in high school, around 13 or 14 years of age, the time in a teen’s life when their decision-making processes are just beginning to become focused on the “bigger picture”) would first consider their options for using this money before deciding whether or not to take the bill. They could wait for one week, then next week receive two bills instead, increasing their total profit. Or, they could take the bill immediately and have money with them to spend. This is where the thought-process comes into play. A teen at this age would consider the two possibilities. Does having the greater amount of money later benefit them more than having less money sooner? If the teen was saving up for an item which required more money, but no time limit, then they would patiently wait until they received the extra cash. On the other hand, if the teen wanted to purchase something that day, say a hot chocolate since this would be the last chilly day for a month, and they needed one dollar right away for it, they would choose the option which benefited them more efficiently to their per-determined wants or needs. An example from the text includes the boy with the Oreo cookie. “One child, a boy with neatly parted hair, looks carefully around the room to make sure that nobody can see him. Then he picks up an Oreo, delicately twists it apart, and licks off the white cream filling before returning the cookie to the tray, a satisfied look on his face.” This is one smart cookie.

    Younger children have no plans for the treat, thus the stress of resisting is harder because they are “living in the moment”. The option is different for teens and adults however, who often have prior ideas and plans which influence their decisions. Even as young children, we are not “resisting” or “outsmarting our desires”, we are simply re-positioning our desires for a better outcome, depending on what suits our fancy. Each scenario is different, and simply because a child chooses the marshmallow now does not mean that it was ill-thought out or unplanned. People are devious, and for this reason, we still have much to consider about the human mind and all of its complex workings.

  24. EliO says:

    Johan Lehrer’s article shows a connection between young people who can resist temptation for a few minutes and those who cannot delay for a larger reward. The thesis he is trying to present is that children who can delay their gratification will generally be more successful later in life. This is a reasonable idea as it is a generally believed that most of a person’s personality is created while they are young and only mildly affected as they age. However what really impressed me about the researchers is that the study was followed through for so many years as well as so many different fields being tested.
    Lehrer also uses a rather common technique to present his thesis. He presents the central test of a study and follows that study in great detail. He puts most of the focus on the study which, though in depth, also makes it hard to perceive any opposing evidence. Lehrer seems to more than anything else be documenting the study rather than offering an in depth analysis. However his saving grace in this field is the quality of the study in question. The presentation shows that the study is a high quality piece of scientific work and is explored in many different directions with the test subjects as well as accounting for the fact that they know they are being studied as they get older. Even separate groups such as kipp that are mentioned connect to the original study, leaving very little room for Lehrer’s own opinions. However this seems to be a trend in both of the New Yorker articles we have been assigned so the rather stoic tone may be an element of the publisher’s preferences.
    One of the central issues of debate connected to this article is the idea that people who have good self discipline are more likely to succeed through that than people who rely on intelligence instead. While it is obviously better to have both there is solid evidence for both sides. People who have the discipline are shown to be better at tests and less likely to do drugs than those with less restraint. Intelligence can make up for hard studying on tests but will not beat a test designed to reward studying and is unlikely to prevent people from making decisions they know are worse anyway. In fact studies have shown higher rates of drug use in schools where talented kids are heavily pressured to perform without a outlet for that stress. Personally I believe this to be a case where both are needed. Intelligence will help people determine the difference between a tempting bad decision and a more beneficial but boring good one, however self control is needed to resist the temptation to do the bad option, such as on a less serious scale than drugs, procrastination something I believe I share the flaw of with many classmates.
    However there is another great debate in the article’s coverage, the ability for people to change and affect their futures versus the being locked into a path from a young age or at least having little room to adjust their future. While many of the children who had difficulty resisting the marshmallow for long periods of time had lower scores in the future it is noted that some improved as they got older. Lehrer seems to be going for the angle that people are set in a direction after an extremely malleable period when they are young. The trend displayed in the highlighted research is that though people will generally follow a path they can change and researchers such as Mischel are most interested. My view is that people can always change but it becomes more difficult as one ages and becomes more set in their ways sometimes requiring a great shock, also these changes are not universally for the better.
    Overall the article gives a good analysis of a study into several questions that though occasionally mentioned rarely are viewed in detail. Also while many people have said modern children need to learn better self control this study addresses how to teach it, though that part is in more developmental stages and broaches the issue of regulated lessons given by a teacher verses individual styles. However despite these many deep questions that are provoked by the article the one that I’ll remember is much more simple; would I have been able to wait for the second marshmallow?

  25. lasnierd says:

    Do you find you agree with the findings of the study?
    I feel that Lehrer’s portrayal of Mischel’s experiment is very accurate and insightful, but I do not agree with the findings of the study itself. I understand that delayed and instant gratification do tend to factor into the performance of individuals with schooling or other facets of life, but presenting “data” that supports this claim is nearly impossible due to the countless manipulated variables that effect the outcome. Not only can circumstances in the experiment itself be different (manner in which information is delivered to the child, time at which the experiment takes place, temperature of the room, etc.) but ALSO the outside influences that cannot be predicted or controlled (home life, financial status, eating habits, body type, etc.). There are too many unaddressed gaps in the collection of the data that are strong contributors to truly determining whether or not a child can mentally control marshmallow consumption.

    -Which is more important to being a good student…intelligence or delaying gratification?
    I believe that intelligence and delayed gratification are both vital in being a “good student”, and neither is more important than the other. It is one thing to have knowledge, but if you can appropriately APPLY that knowledge to a specific situation to reach a desired outcome, then you have exercised the concept of intelligence. “Intelligence” is not WHAT you know, it’s HOW you use it in the real world. Additionally, delayed gratification can prove to be incentive for somebody to reach a better outcome than they would if they got what they wanted immediately, so being a “high-delayer” is almost the same as being intelligent: you are doing what you can to reach the best possible outcome.

    -What steps does the author, Jonah Lehrer, make to advance his thesis? (And what IS his thesis?)
    Lehrer’s thesis is that “high-delayers” tend to prove more successful in life than others who thrive on instant gratification. He advances his thesis through the use of fact-based research that can be supported using quotations from sources that we assume are highly credible. Lehrer does not personally voice his own opinion as much as gives insurmountable evidence to a specific idea that leaves no room for questioning or consideration of another possibility. It is not so much a persuasive essay as it is almost presenting a new discovery. While the experiment is still clouded with mixed results, Lehrer’s factual tone serves as a method of making the reader believe him, regardless of whether or not its actually true, with phrases such as “The scientists have some encouraging preliminary results – after just a few sessions, students show significant improvements in the ability to deal with hot emotional states…”. While they are “preliminary”, Lehrer chooses to include the word “results”, which can more commonly be associated with a “conclusion” or “finalized product” that makes the reader feel as if this is the most conclusive and true information that exists on the topic.

    -Do you believe that who you are at age 5 pretty much is who you are for the rest of your life, or do you believe people can learn delayed gratification? I believe that people have the ability to learn delayed gratification, in fact, its almost essential to life that we make this adaptation. I doubt any human being has ever lacked a moment where they wanted something “NOW”. We are creatures that run based on fears and desires, so we are always looking for something to claim as ours or take before somebody else gets the chance to. This behavior is what we exhibit as mammals. As HUMANS that live in a modernized SOCIETY, we have given ourselves a moral system that disallows the primal behavior and more encourages “civilized” behavior. As we all know, “patience is a virtue.” Being able to wait for something is a trait of the strong, it is a skill that has been tested, developed, strengthened, and gained through “trial and error.” We NEED to make this a habitual part of our lives, because as the “preliminary results” show, the “high-delayers” will do better in life, and those who have adapted the change who failed initially are showing improvement. It is a learnable trait, and genetics is not a restriction in training self-control.

    -Lehrer includes a lot of biographical information about Mischel, the experimenter. He could have written the article without this-why do you think he includes it? I think Lehrer includes Mischel’s past because it personalizes the essay, it uses the Pathos appeal to bring in the emotional aspect that favors Mischel and makes him more relatable than just a “professor” conducting a “social experiment.” We find that this man has an actual past and reasoning for these experiments, and because of his rough childhood, our inner humanitarians are serving as a subconscious cheer squad that are begging society to accept his findings as true and for him to be successful after his years and countless hours of research. We WANT this to prove real and true, we WANT Mischel to win his argument and find the secrets to this odd facet of human behavior. We want this because Lehrer makes us want it through emotional appeal.

  26. lasnierd says:

    Mr. Skylar T. King, I like how you began your response with the analytically-structured sentence stems that we have been applying, and it is a very insightful and well organized opening. Additionally, your main body paragraph was filled with numerous and RELEVANT quotes that only strengthened your analysis, and I must be quite honest and admit that I am quite envious of your quoting techniques. Your conclusion referred back to your introduction, but it was more fruitful, and thus the end of your analysis was satisfying and thought-provoking. Not to mention your concluding sentence itself, which is true, humorous, and extremely clever. You are a master of this language and I admire your palpable passion for grace and clarity in both your verbal and written communication styles.

  27. Jennie Brons says:

    Lehrer provides us with a very informative article, with many experiments to test whether gratification or intelligence effects your life more severely. I don’t agree completly with his results, I don’t believe that just because a child could not resist eating a marshmallow when they were five years old that they will do poorly on the SAT’s when they are in their late teens. I do not believe that who you are at the age of five is who you are for the rest of your life. You can’t experience even a small sliver of posibilites of what you will experience by the time you are eighteen, let alone your whole life. The experiences that you have in life are what completes your life, it’s what makes you, you. Your personality is molded from experiences you have growing up and ones you have as an adult, I honestly feel that you change every single day in even the slightest way, whether it be for the better or the worse that is unknown, but determined by your surroundings.
    I believe that delayed gratification shows your character, not just what your brain is capable of; unlike intelligence. It is a more important quality, because you can better yourself for an array of things in life instead of just being intelligent. You must know how to achieve delayed gratification and have self control. I believe that you can learn to wait for something more rewarding, but not everyone can become intelligent. Intelligence and gradification are similar in the sense that it depends upon what the subject is. If it is something that you want to wait for to recieve more of, you’ll wait, if not, you won’t wait. If it’s a subject you don’t care for you probably won’t apply yourself as much as you could, even if you are a very intelligent person. The difference is everyone can learn gradification but not everyone has the ability to become intelligent.
    When it comes to being a good student that all depends on the student’s priorities. If the student honestly cares about school they will do everything in their will to be as intelligent as possible to succeed at being a good student. In order to be a good student this does not mean that you have to have gradification, because you don’t necessarily need to be able to resist a prize to succeed at school. I believe that intelligence and being a good student go hand in hand, because if you are not somewhat intelligent, you’ll have a hard time passing classes with a “good” grade like “good” students like to.

  28. Savannah Steffens says:

    Jonah Lehrer’s “Don’t” was a very interesting article to read explaining self control and how it effects you when you are older. Although I do not agree with Lehrer , he brought some interesting facts from Walter Mischel. Personally I think using one or two marshmallows to determine a child’s SAT scores, self control, and to test their delayed gratification is not a satisfying way to evaluate them when they are older and more mature. The kids that are tested are around the age of 4 and 5. Do they even understand what the concept is? Which is “either you eat one marshmallow right away or if they were willing to wait while someone stepped out of the room, they could have two marshmallows later.” It may not be because they don’t have delayed gravitation or self control, it could be because they don’t fully understand the concept. “I want the treat, or why would I wait when it’s right there and I can eat it now” are probably thoughts that goes through their mind while staring at one marshmallow.

    Mishel “noticed that low delayers, the children who rang the bell quickly, seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home. They got lower S.A.T. scores.” I do not see how this test of the marshmallows developes an early outcome on what they will be like when taking tests in the future and their behavior problems.

    One last point is what if you put a marshmallow in front of a juvenile and they don’t like marshmallows? That could allow them to wait for many minutes for that second marshmallow. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will be better than all the other children who can’t wait more than just a few minutes. It’s not about having the self control or th have the best SAT scores, but when it comes to marshmallows they can only wait 30 seconds, which means they only get one instead of two.

  29. Vincent Sciglibaglio says:

    Lehrer’s article on the marshmallow experiment was in my own opinion unnecessary. There findings could never be conclusive because of all the variables in the question. You can’t test just one of them like whether or not having a father around would make a difference because both the kids also aren’t identical. Maybe one of the kids enjoys marshmallows more or one kid like in Africa are starving. I do agree with the fact that there is a reason why some kids do better at waiting and being more patient. Will we ever know that cause? No I don’t believe so because it’s like the argument about Nature vs Nurture. Nobody can really tell whether or not someones characteristics are based on the environments they grow up in or their DNA. Because you have people who are twins who grow up with different personalities. Same thing happens here there is no way to have the same kid being tested and having two different results. If we are here to spread opinions and make hypothesizes then I think that the people who can wait longer to get the second marshmallow and to grow up more successful is just what you are born with. Those type of people have more a drive in they teach themselves to push their limits and that’s how they succeed. I disagree with the findings that the study had given.
    Intelligence and delaying gratification are two traits that a good student should possess. Choosing one wouldn’t make you a good student cause you are missing crucial characteristics. Intelligence is just the base of what you need because it just means that you are naturally smart and it’s easy to retain knowledge. Delaying gratification is that passion you need to keep going to work hard and you will go beyond your goals. If you are one of the lucky people who have both you will have a good life. The intelligence is all the knowledge you will need and the delayed gratification will make you want to use that knowledge to not be lazy.
    At age 5 I don’t believe you are done growing up. Delayed gratification can be taught by yourself. When someone is 5 they are young naive and when you are older like in high school you start to grow up and you may not have known that you have the ability to delay gratification but it’s there. I for one have changed in that way. I’m more patient now than when I was five that’s for sure and it’s because of high school. This year i broke out made new friends, took harder classes, ap, and tried new sports. Being lazy isn’t a bad thing as long as you don’t care. So not having delayed gratification isn’t either. It’s what makes people, people. If everyone had it, then nobody would. No I disagree with the fact that 5 year olds can’t learn delayed gratification.


    • Dr. Matthew Wise M.D, B.S says:

      I do have to agree with Vinny on the fact that an experiment like the ones Mischel carried out could not be perfectly conclusive because of all the variables. If Mr. Finch made us understand one thing about science, it’s that you can’t prove a Hypothesis true because it would be impossible to be able to conduct all the tests necessary. I also feel that one of the problems was that children were only offered two marshmallows, and not a variety of quantities to help rule out the kids that could last past waiting 15 minutes, but determine if they could go further if the size of the prize was increased. However, on the point of nature versus nurture, Mischel did point out that it is impossible to separate the two when determing personality traits, so I felt that in this case he understood some of the exterior variables that could not be easily covered by experimentation. Like Vinny, I also felt there was no way to split intelligence and delaying gratification. Everyone can use both to improve their lives, although I don’t exactly feel that there should be groups of people that have no need for it just for the sake of having mental diversity. Both traits are important to the development of a healthy lifestyle, so take one of each and call me in the morning. Sincerely,
      Herr Doktor Wise

    • Vincent Sciglibaglio says:

      Geez vinny you’re so good! I agree with everything so much. You’re so cute. We should date sometime! 😀

  30. Dr. Mr. Woodrow "Big Dawg" Moore says:

    Lehrer’s clear thesis of delayed gratification being the secret to self-control in “Don’t! The secret of self control”, challenges for the argument that there is direct link between the rate of success in someones life and how well they can resist a delectably tantalizing treat, in which, like the majority of the responses, I agree with…to a certain extent. I do agree that of self control is seen as “an ability to direct the spotlight of attention so that our decisions aren’t determined by the wrong thoughts” but i disagree that intellegence ceases to play a role in their success. As Ashley stated earlier, there are many students who do poorly on tests and recieve unwelcoming grades and for that they recieve the assumption that they have little intellectual wealth, but in actuality are very intellegent people. The data supporting each idea throughout ALL of Lehrer’s writing brings to the table the solidity of fact, however, as he said they are tampering with variables unforeseeable such as their home life, what habits their parents are enforcing daily, or lack thereof, and whether or not habits are inherited through genetics.
    Lehrer’s main rhetorical tactic to win his audience, I felt, was through Ethos mainly because his aimed purpose was to educate about self-control, but he did it through constant examples, extensive research, and important names with fancy college titles, which leads the readers to feel comforted. Then secondly he uses Pathos through his large amounts of data and the idea of the “undeniable facts” just stated, and logical thinking that it induces. In addition to these is the cartoon at the beginning under the title, with the pictures of the three children stressing over the contemplation of to eat or not to eat. Then there is the last child promptly licking his fingeres in satisfaction of hs tasty treat. Although good funny it does illustrate the mental proccess for the typical children struggling with delayed gratification, and their coping mechanisms for distraction.
    To advance his point it seems as though Lehrer resided behind a wall of facts taken through extensive and impressive research. He used as his primary example Mischel’s experimentation techniques and history to enforce the idea that he is a credible source, and at times it seemed distracting when he went on tangents about Mischels personal life. I also agree with Mischel when he states that the marshmallow test isn’t for self-control or will power, but for the ability of the child to distract themself from the whole subject to ultimately gain the larger prize. In this is where I understand the idea of later success coming into practice. You cannot base someones future prospects on a test at such a young age becuase habits inevitably change over time, and I believe it is definately possible to learn to be disciplined in delayed gratification because we constantly learn through process of elimination and trial and error. *If we are smart enough to even ponder, let alone begin to understand, our complexity, are we not smart enough to learn that the longer we wait the better the treat? Therefore “patience IS a(n attainable) virtue” in every aspect for every human, no matter what their chemistry.

  31. Dr. Mr. Woodrow "Big Dawg" Moore says:

    Wow, Woodrow. That is the most inspirational thing I have ever read in my entire life, I especiall like your wording, and good use of vocabulary and sentence structure. KU-DO’s to you!!!

  32. ashlyntaylor says:

    Tara, I enjoyed reading your article and it took a differnt side than most of ours did, i liked how you took that just because your an intelligent student doesnt mean anything. you must have delayed gratification in order to succeed in both. In that regard we both had the same idea, we also had the same thoughts in the matter of being age five thats not who we are permantley. You had some very great ideas about that, that i hadnt thought of. For example that as you grow up you friends change as well as you do. That was a very good point and example of this would be a student could play stupid becasue thats what their friends acted like and what was gool at the time. So good job bringing that point up. Well written article!!

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