Think back to your childhood Halloween: 9pm, a school night, pillowcase full of candy.
Just as you plunge into your pile of peanut butter cups, fun size this-and-thats, and spider rings (weren't they so exciting?), Mom ruins the party. "You can eat three. Then go brush your teeth and get ready for bed."
Did you eat just three? Or did you sneak an extra Baby Ruth or two when she wasn't looking?
A study published earlier this month in Cognition
suggests that willpower is not the only factor in play when it comes to foregoing that extra piece.
Instead, a child's belief about their superiors' reliability can change their willingness to wait for a better payoff later.
Psychologist Celeste Kidd and colleagues of the University of Rochester created a modified paradigm of the "marshmallow task." Originally developed by psychologist Walter Mischel in 1972, the task involves an experimenter telling a preschooler that they can eat a marshmallow, cookie, or pretzel. If the child abstains and waits 15 minutes, however, the experimenter tells them they can receive two treats.
Kids lasted an average of six minutes before grabbing the treat in front of them. When fo . . . More