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How Cookies Can Measure a Child's Intelligence

Resisting the urge to gobble up a sweet snack is an excellent predictor of academic and social success.


You've probably heard of Walter Mischel's marshmallow experiment before: Stanford researchers left kids alone in a room with a single marshmallow, promising that if the tyke could keep its hands off the sugary snack for up to 15 minutes, they'd get a second marshmallow.

According to a New Yorker article from last year, a child's ability to delay gratification and control his or her impulses was a solid predictor of how they would later fare on their SATs (better than I.Q.), as well as larger behavioral problems:

Once Mischel began analyzing the results, 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 situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships. The child who could wait fifteen minutes had an S.A.T. score that was, on average, two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds.
Long-term debilitating effects of kids succumbing to their urges to eat the marshmallow aside, videos of recreations of the experiment are as alluring as the candy itself. So, maybe just because to make Monday a little less meh (and a lot more cute), I'm posting a recent version of the experiment, involving chocolate chip cookies, overseen by John Medina, a developmental biologist and author of Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five.

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