Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Delaying gratification vs. succumbing to it

Proponents of Emotional Intelligence -- and in particular, deferred or delayed gratification, one of its key components -- love to cite this study:

The marshmallow experiment is a famous test of this concept conducted by Walter Mischel at Stanford University and discussed by Daniel Goleman in his popular work. In the 1960s a group of four-year olds were tested by being given a marshmallow and promised another, if they could wait 20 minutes before eating the first one. Some children could wait and others could not. The researchers then followed the progress of each child into adolescence, and demonstrated that those with the ability to wait were better adjusted and more dependable (determined via surveys of their parents and teachers), and scored an average of 210 points higher on the Scholastic Aptitude Test. [Wikipedia entry]

If you don't care much for improved SAT scores, and are just interested in improved prosperity (aka more money), you should read this post by Falstaff who cites an Atlantic Monthly article suggesting a much simpler alternative:

Drinking may impair your motor skills and romantic judgment, but—if you’re a man, at least—it can fatten your wallet, two new studies suggest. In the first, a pair of health economists found that American males who drank heavily when they were tenth-graders in 1990 earned more money in 2000, on average, than their peers who were teetotalers as teens. (The researchers found no such link for women.) Meanwhile, a study from the libertarian Reason Foundation reports that self-described drinkers (male and female) earn 10 percent to 14 percent more than nondrinkers. Drinking, the authors argue, may help build the kinds of social networks that lead to workplace success. The Reason study also finds that men who frequent bars at least once a month earn a further 7 percent wage boost. For women, however, regular barhopping has no discernible effect—on earnings, anyway.

Of course, it's too late for me -- and, going by the demographics of this blog's commenters, you! -- to act on these findings!


  1. gaddeswarup said...

    It is never too late. I started when I was 27 and enjoyed it to some extent.But I found that the effects in my case were more physical than mental and used to end up cleaning the place and putting to bed the more drunken friends. I still enjoy it but I find that I cannot do any serious work the next day.
    It seems to be a standard practice for business deals. Decreases inhibitions for many and increases camaraderie. That may explain the income increase. But I heard of cases of some Telugu business people who have arranged marriages during such interludes and do not how successful the marriages have been.
    Ganjai is less expensive and seems to have very opposite effects of alcohol. Time passes very slowly and you can hear every note while listening to music. Again, it seems to have different effects on different people and may take a few attempts before it has any effect. Before too long, people may be allowed to take it under medical supervision.