Another myth debunked

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Sangoma
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Another myth debunked

Post by Sangoma » Thu Mar 21, 2019 5:10 am

Famed impulse control 'marshmallow test' fails in new research
The “marshmallow test” has intrigued a generation of parents and educationalists with its promise that a young child’s willpower and self-control holds a key to their success in later life.

But there is some good news for parents of pre-schoolers whose impulse control is nonexistent: the latest research suggests the claims of the marshmallow test are close to being a fluffy confection.
In the original research, by Stanford University psychologist Walter Mischel in the 1960s and 1970s, children aged between three and five years old were given a marshmallow that they could eat immediately, but told that if they resisted eating it for 10 minutes, they would be rewarded with two marshmallows.

According to Mischel and colleagues in a follow-up study in 1990, the results were profound for children who had the willpower to wait for the extra marshmallow. More than a decade later, in their late teens, those children exhibited advanced traits of intelligence and behaviour far above those who caved in to temptation.
The updated version of the marshmallow test – in which the children were able to choose their own treats, including chocolate – studied 900 children, with the sample adjusted to make it more reflective of US society, including 500 whose mothers had not gone on to higher education.

Mischel’s original research used children of Stanford University staff, while the followup study included fewer than 50 children from which Mischel and colleagues formed their conclusions.

Most surprising, according to Tyler, was that the revisited test failed to replicate the links with behaviour that Mischel’s work found, meaning that a child’s ability to resist a sweet treat aged four or five didn’t necessarily lead to a well-adjusted teenager a decade later. “We found virtually no correlation between performance on the marshmallow test and a host of adolescent behavioural outcomes. I thought that this was the most surprising finding of the paper,” Watts said.
Robert Coe, professor of education at Durham University, said the marshmallow test had permeated the public conscience because it was a simple experiment with a powerful result.

“It will never die, despite being debunked, that’s the problem. Parenting books 10 or 20 years from now will still be quoting it, and not the evidence against it,” Coe said.
Last edited by Sangoma on Thu Mar 21, 2019 5:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Another myth debunked

Post by Sangoma » Thu Mar 21, 2019 5:13 am

A lot of crap like this permeates popular science literature. Another example is Ten Thousand Hours of Meaningful Practice popularised by Gladwell. It has been debunked numerous times, but still persists in the public mind.

Great Practice Myth: Debunking the 10,000 Hour Rule
A recent meta-analysis by Case Western Reserve University psychologist Brooke Macnamara and her colleagues found that deliberate practice and skill are related – but far from perfectly related. Deliberate practice hours predicted 26% of the skill variation in games such as chess, 21% for music, and 18% for sports. This is the second biggest flaw of the 10,000 Rule: It leads to a misconception that anyone can become an expert in a given area by putting in the time. But clearly, since deliberate practice hours predicted only 20-25% of skill levels, there are other factors at play.
But what about fields that are less tangible? Learning how to play a guitar or how to shoot a soccer ball are tangible skills, with well-established “norms” for what mastery looks like, or sounds like. But what about practicing less tangible skills, like being a good boss or a good parent?

The study found that deliberate practice predicted even less of the performance in these areas, predicting only 4% of the variance in performance in education, and less than 1% for professions. Woah.
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