Delayed gratification. Oooh. Tough. Generally I want it now. Me and billions of other people. In today’s world of increased access to pretty pictures, I might want things that I would not have even known existed a decade ago.
Turns out that the capacity to delay gratification at a young age is predictive of success in later life. Well, that explains why High WASPs value DG so highly, doesn’t it? We can say it’s all about virtue and godliness, but it’s really about developing the ability to contribute to capitalism. How do we inculcate this value in children? The dinner table, where else. High WASP families make their kids set the table, they have to get the right plates and glasses and placemats. Then we have to sit and eat all together. Some families say grace. We have to eat vegetables. Lots of them. We have to try everything on our plate. And, before we get cookies, we have to have a piece of fruit. To this day I hate fruit. Finally, before we leave the table, we have to say, “May I be excused?”
All this prepares us to become law partners and investment bankers and entrepreneurs. Really. It does. The pivotal study is about kids and marshmallows. In short, one marshmallow now or two marshmallows later? The New Yorker did a great article on it here. Me, I’m just going to show you how it affects shopping habits. Tomorrow. So we can practice delays.