Re: Marshmallow test -Reply

John McCreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 00:54:52 +0900

>Of course, the point brought up here by my friend is that the researchers
>may not have been
>measuring what they think they were measuring (substitute intelligence or
>success for IQ if it
>makes it easier to read). Maybe the kids who succeed are the ones who are
>healthier because
>they don't like marshmallows.

I, too, don't want to get too heavy about this, but I do find it curious
when intelligent people are led to defend remarks rooted in raw
speculation. The original source is quite clear that the successful
children (where success is the common sense business of making good grades
and then good livings in later life) were the ones who waited for a second
marshmallow and, that, however motivated, this one fact was more strongly
correlated with both academic and economic high performance in later life
than IQ tests. That should be a bit sobering to those of us whose
self-image is heavily shaped by scores on IQ and similar tests which in our
heart of hearts we d believe, however ironic our poses, show how smart we
are. When someone writes, "Maybe the kids who succeed are the ones who are
healthier because they don't like marshmallows," it sounds a bit defensive
to me. I hear a subtext which says, "I am not about to go along with a
story in praise of an old-fashioned virtue like delayed gratification.
Let's attribute the success to a new-fashioned virtue like not eating sugar
instead." Now I could be wrong--frequently am--but as Papa Freud taught us,
jokes are one of those places where truth is near the surface. This
exchange is getting curiouser and curiouser.


John McCreery
3-206 Mitsusawa HT, 25-2 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
Yokohama 220, JAPAN

"And the Lord said unto Cyrus, 'Shall the clay say to him who moldest it,
what makest thou? Let the potsherd of the earth speak to the potsherd of
the earth." --An anthropologist's credo