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About the book
  • Published: 2 November 2015
  • ISBN: 9780552168861
  • Imprint: Corgi
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $24.99

The Marshmallow Test

Understanding Self-control and How To Master It

Self-control explained by the inventor of the famous 1960s marshmallow experiments

A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behaviour later in life?

Walter Mischel’s now iconic 'marshmallow test,' one of the most famous experiments in the history of psychology, proved that the ability to delay gratification is critical to living a successful and fulfilling life: self-control not only predicts higher marks in school, better social and cognitive functioning, and a greater sense of self-worth; it also helps us manage stress, pursue goals more effectively, and cope with painful emotions. But is willpower prewired, or can it be taught?

In his groundbreaking new book, Dr. Mischel draws on decades of compelling research and life examples to explore the nature of willpower, identifying the cognitive skills and mental mechanisms that enable it and showing how these can be applied to challenges in everyday life--from weight control to quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement.

With profound implications for the choices we make in parenting, education, public policy and self-care, The Marshmallow Test will change the way we think about who we are and what we can be. And since, as Mischel argues, a life with too much self-control can be as unfulfilling as one with too little, this book will also teach you when it’s time to ring the bell and enjoy that marshmallow.

  • Pub date: 2 November 2015
  • ISBN: 9780552168861
  • Imprint: Corgi
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $24.99

About the Author

Walter Mischel

Walter Mischel holds the Robert Johnston Niven chair as professor of humane letters in psychology at Columbia University. He is the author of more than two hundred scientific papers as well as the coauthor of Introduction to Personality, now in its eighth edition. He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has won the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of APA and the Grawemeyer Award for Psychology. He lives in New York.

Praise for The Marshmallow Test

“The discoveries that grew out of the marshmallow studies add up to one of the most insightful research stories in the history of psychology. Whatever it is now, your view of human nature will change profoundly as you read this brilliant book.”

Daniel Kahneman, Author of 'Thinking Fast and Slow'

“This is a complex book that explores human nature, neuroscience and genetics, enlivened by a sprinkling of anecdotes. It's also a book that can show you how to change your behaviour: whether it's finally setting up that pension, cutting your alcohol intake or shunning the marshmallows for good.”

Rosamund Urwin, Evening Standard

“This is a genial, optimistic book and a rather soothing read ... it provides an important and largely painless insight into a profound transformation in psychology”

The Sunday Times

“Walter Mischel is one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century, and The Marshmallow Test will make him one of the most influential in this century, too.”

Steven Pinker

“A top five psychology title”

Independent on Sunday

“In our go-faster era, extreme impulsivity — from trolling to air rage — seems to be on the rise. So it is an apt moment for psychologist Walter Mischel to recap his much-cited “marshmallow test” ... Mischel takes us beyond the experiment into deep research on “delay ability”, his formulation of “hot” and “cool” cognition, speculation on the role of genetics, and the implications of his work for public policy.”


“Your view of human nature will change profoundly as you read this brilliant book.”

Daniel Kahneman, Author of 'Thinking, Fast and Slow'

“Mischel has written a wonderful book, engaging, enlightening, and profound.”

Daniel Goleman, author of 'Emotional Intelligence' and 'Focus'

“This is an amazing, eye-opening, transformative, riveting book from one of the greatest psychologists of our time.”

Carol S. Dweck, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University

“Fast-paced and engaging”

The Wall Street Journal

“This book, a compendium of his life's research, is Mischel's attempt to demonstrate that self-control can be learned ... There are lessons that may prove useful to professionals [and] strategies one can employ to distract oneself from the temptation of instant gratification.”

The Financial Times

“Prof Mischel argues that individuals can be taught self-control with persistence and a number of practical techniques ... [and] such skills are increasingly valuable.”

The Financial Times

“A picaresque journey through the human psyche - one in which the detours are at least as fascinating as the destination.”

Mail on Sunday

“This book is best read as a memoir of gratification ... it is a fascinating read and a considerable achievement.”

The Economist

“Mischel's insights are fascinating and rewarding.”

Sunday Telegraph

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