Many have heard about the Stanford marshmallow experiment, during which young children were offered a choice
The authors of a new scientific article say thatA child's willingness to wait largely depends on his cultural upbringing. The study found that children in Japan were willing to wait three times longer for food than for gifts, while children in the US waited almost four times longer for gifts than for food.
This work challenges previousresearch, suggesting that some children who seemed to lack self-control may simply have had different cultural values instead. In a recent experiment, Japanese children overwhelmingly waited longer for marshmallows, with an average waiting time of 15 minutes. “If we just looked at their behavior with sweets, it would seem that Japanese children are more in control of themselves,” the scientists said, “But this was not the end of the story.” These same children waited less than five minutes to open the present. For the American participants, the opposite was true: children waited almost 15 minutes to open a gift, and less than four to eat marshmallows.
“We found that the ability to delaysatisfaction, which predicts many important life outcomes, is associated not only with variations in genes or brain development, but also with culturally supported habits, ”the scientists explained.