WATERSTONES NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH
A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behaviour later in life?
'A book that can show you how to change your behaviour . . . explores human nature, neuroscience and genetics, enlivened by a sprinkling of anecdotes' Evening Standard
'A genial, optimistic book and a rather soothing read' The Sunday Times
'A brilliant book' Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow
Walter Mischel’s now iconic 'marshmallow test,' one of the most famous experiments in the history of psychology, proved that the ability to delay gratification is critical to living a successful and fulfilling life: self-control not only predicts higher marks in school, better social and cognitive functioning, and a greater sense of self-worth; it also helps us manage stress, pursue goals more effectively, and cope with painful emotions. But is willpower prewired, or can it be taught?
In his groundbreaking new book, Dr. Mischel draws on decades of compelling research and life examples to explore the nature of willpower, identifying the cognitive skills and mental mechanisms that enable it and showing how these can be applied to challenges in everyday life--from weight control to quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement.
With profound implications for the choices we make in parenting, education, public policy and self-care, The Marshmallow Test will change the way we think about who we are and what we can be. And since, as Mischel argues, a life with too much self-control can be as unfulfilling as one with too little, this book will also teach you when it’s time to ring the bell and enjoy that marshmallow.
Mischel, the renowned psychologist behind the now-famous marshmallow tests of the 1960s, shares the culmination of over 50 years of research on willpower and self-control in this expansive, eye-opening book. The test was simple (a choice of one marshmallow now or two later on provided the means to quantify willpower), yet the results predicted future successes and failures, such that those with self-control as children displayed similar restraint as adults. In addition to an overview of the original longitudinal study, we are given insight into the history and physiology of self-control, its manifestations and its mastery. But, somewhat surprisingly, this book is largely about the ways in which self-control can be learned at any stage in life. Indeed "marshmallows" can take on many forms, as Mischel demonstrates through case studies and more contemporary tests. All of the anecdotes here, not to mention the entire chapter on practical applications, provide insight into how we can maximize our willpower without overextending its potential. Mischel's expansive scope makes the title somewhat of a misnomer, as the book covers more than a matter of his initial experiments. To be human is to grapple with the will: this stimulating book encourages us to make mindful decisions.