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Impulse Control and its effects on Intelligence

Have you ever heard about the tests that offered young children the option of having one bag of sweets now or by waiting a few minutes could have 2 bags of sweets? If you have kids, what do you think yours would do, wait for the extra payoff or immediately indulge in instant gratification?

This research was carried out with four year olds and to give you an idea of the temptation, the sweets were placed in front of the children, they were given the options and then the researcher left the room (and the sweets) in front of the class. As you can imagine, some of the children took their one bag of sweets almost as soon as the researcher's back was turned as she left the room. Other children however used a variety of methods to distract themselves from the sweets such as closing their eyes, talking to themselves or playing with their hands and feet. Once the researcher returned, these children were rewarded with the extra sweets that their more impulsive friends had foregone for the immediate fulfilment.

The researchers tracked down these children over 10 years later and discovered that those who had resisted the temptation were more socially competent, personally more effective, self assertive and better able to deal with the frustrations of life. Those who had grabbed at the sweets had fewer of these traits and shared a relatively more troubled psychological profile. Even more interesting is that as they left High School, those who had waited for the sweets were much better students. The research found that the ability to deny impulse was a strong indicator of success.



(Source - Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman)





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