30 October 2010

Gopnik's Philosophical Baby on Restraint

An extract from Alison Gopnik's great book on infant development, The Philosophical Baby (p. 159):

"The executive-control one-cookie/two-cookie experiments were first done back in the sixties. Years later they turned out to be a remarkably good predictor of teenage success at school. Children who were more able to defer gratification when they were five years old became teenagers who were more likely to be rated as competent and mature, and their SAT scores were consistently higher than those of children who couldn't tolerate the delay.
Some psychologists have even suggested that teenagers who literally don't feel they have a future are most likely to behave self-destructively. Michael Chandler looked at teenagers in aboriginal communities in Canada. These teenagers are notoriously at risk for suicide, as well as less drastically self-destructive actions. Chandler found that adolescents at risk for suicide had a less coherent sense of themselves. They were less likely to connect their current, past, and especially future selves than children who were less at risk."

[ref: M. Chandler and T. Proulx, 2006, 'Changing selves in changing worlds: youth suicide on the fault-lines of colliding cultures', Archives of Suicide Research, special issue: Suicide among indigenous peoples: The Research, 10 (2) (Mar 2006), 125-40.]


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