As I’ve stated in many a review, pop sociology and behavioral economics books are like catnip to me. I’ve purchased too many to count because I love reading about secondary consequences, and this seemed to fit the mold – a study on willpower and strategies to delay gratification morphing into a long term predictor of future success? Yes please! The problem is that instead of focusing on that one study, the author uses it as one of many to demonstrate that inner discipline is predictive of success.
This bodes well for my coming book hypothesizing water is wet.
The author is also a little too enamored of his most famous study, the aforementioned marshmallow test, where children were promised one treat now or two if they waited. I mean, I’ve heard of it, but it’s not the Beatles of research studies like the author seems to think it is. It’s more like the Kinks – immensely catchy, with a lot more interesting stuff if you dig deep down, but not world changing, so calm down a little with “people reference it on tee shirts” there, Walter. Of course people are gonna show you every reference to what you’re best known for, in the same way you notice every model of car the same as yours when you get a new one. You’re a researcher, you should know better.
Anyway, I wish he’d loved his study enough to make it more central to the book instead of putting it forward as justification that his ideas were strong. But again, just showing examples of how deferring gratification makes you disciplined isn’t enough.