Dept. of Science: Don’t! -- Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker
The 18May2009 issue of The New Yorker has a loooong article by Jonah Lehrer that begins with Walter Mischel's 1960s research at the Bing Nursery School on the Stanford campus (AKA "the marshmallow experiment") and other research along similar lines.
The questions researchers and others are asking are, is the ability to delay gratification a far better predictor of academic performance and adult "success" than I.Q.? Is the ability to delay gratification a genetic trait? Will brain scans show gratification delayers' brains function differently than instant gratifiers' brains? Can one be trained to be more future-oriented and less into instant gratification? Would this help children struggling with school?
Jonah Lehrer weaves his words well. These two sentences are part of Lehrer's description of Walter Mischel:
Mischel was born in Vienna, in 1930. His father was a modestly successful businessman with a fondness for café society and Esperanto, while his mother spent many of her days lying on the couch with an ice pack on her forehead, trying to soothe her frail nerves
How much is packed into those few words!