Salon has a new article, Identifying With Others Who Control Themselves Could Strengthen Your Own Self-Control that revisits the famous experiment in which children were tormented to see how long they could control themselves without wolfing down some marshmallows. The kids who could do without the longest ended up doing better later in life. Were they born with good control? Could it be taught?
The Salon article describes a new study tormenting children who had been assigned to groups. Kids who thought their group members had waited before scarfing down marshmallows were better able to wait before doing so, themselves. The research is "the first to show that group behavior motivates young children's actions that involve self-control."
Haven't We Heard Something Like This Before?
Why, yes, we have. According to Kelly McGonigal (Hmm. I have her new book on my Kindle. When am I going to read that?), self-control is contagious. We are influenced by others in the groups we are part of, just like those kids.
"What does this have to do with managing time," I asked a few years back, "particularly managing time for writers? The May Days, people! National Novel Writing Month! Your writers' groups. All these group initiatives involve setting aside time (a month, a meeting every week or two) and pulling people together with the hope that we will "catch" initiative, work ethic, etc., from each other."
Right now I'm taking part in May Days, binge-writing with others. Looking for some self-control from other writers. On the other hand, I didn't go to writers' group last week. No hope of getting self-control help from them this month. Yikes.
And, finally, I don't know if I've ever mentioned this here, but I really don't care for marshmallows. They would have had to pay me to eat those things.