That Stiff Upper Marshmallow-Free Lip

Low [marshmallow] delayers, the children who rang the bell quickly, seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home. They got lower S.A.T. scores. They struggled in stressful situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships. The child who could wait fifteen minutes had an S.A.T. score that was, on average, two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds.

I work in medicine. It’s always interested me that the typical “low functioning” patient population, that is, the repeat customers who present over and over to the ED or bounce back to their Medicine teams, tend to have a lot more individuals who display problems with delaying gratification. Unfortunately, their doctors tend to have a lot of individuals who are above the median in delaying gratification (a requirement to proceed through all 12-16 years of undergrad, then med school, then residency selects for or entrains this) and therefore have trouble understanding why their patients simply can’t check their sugars, stop eating the twinkies so much, remember to take their HCTZ, or lay off the meth for a while. It’s mutual incomprehension.

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