Metacognition according to Marshmellows

You have heard about the marshmallow test right?

Check it out here:

I read an interesting yesterday that dug into the science of self-control. As a student, a pastor and a future parent this was fascinating to me.  Below is an excerpt of the article.

Psychologists assumed that children’s ability to wait depended on how badly they wanted the marshmallow. But it soon became obvious that every child craved the extra treat. What, then, determined self-control? Mischel’s conclusion, based on hundreds of hours of observation, was that the crucial skill was the “strategic allocation of attention.” Instead of getting obsessed with the marshmallow—the “hot stimulus”—the patient children distracted themselves by covering their eyes, pretending to play hide-and-seek underneath the desk, or singing songs from “Sesame Street.” Their desire wasn’t defeated—it was merely forgotten. “If you’re thinking about the marshmallow and how delicious it is, then you’re going to eat it,” Mischel says. “The key is to avoid thinking about it in the first place. In adults, this skill is often referred to as metacognition, or thinking about thinking, and it’s what allows people to outsmart their shortcomings.

Read more

  • It’s very humanistic of course, and metacognition has its shortcomings. For example how would it work when you are battling a character defect, or mental failings, and not a fluffy sugary corn syrup treat.
  • Nevertheless it shouldn’t be dismissed entirely out of hand. Being able to focus on positive things in life is better and more productive in general than entering a dialogue with negative things.
  • Reminds me of a story in Genesis 39:1-12

How you found thinking, and acting on positive things even in the midst of obvious negativity helps?

Published by abeccai

An optimistic and progressing follow of Christ. Currently loving life with my family in Seattle, WA.

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