Can Year 12 Psychology students resist the cookies right under their noses?
A lesson in delaying gratification this week had Sixth Formers fighting the urge to tuck into a cookie or an opened pack of Haribos on their desk.
Would they immediately cave in to temptation, or could they summon up enough willpower to wait until the end of the lesson? If they prolonged the treat, they would earn double the reward…
This study of self-control, explained Mr Levinson-Obank, emulates a series of experiments on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Tradition dictates that we wait until the end of a meal for our dessert. It’s not just about switching from savoury to sweet, but as much about ending with a treat, saving the best until last.
He put some questions to the girls. Would they rather watch a movie at home tonight, or wait until Saturday evening for a cinema trip? In another scenario, would they prefer to get a £1,000 sum of money every month for 12 months, or would they be willing to start with £25 in month one, double it to £50 in month two, double it again to £100 in month three, and so on.
If they were willing to choose the latter and opt for longer-term gratification over a short-term fix, they would be almost £40,000 better off by the end of the year.
If we are able to delay gratification, the girls went on to learn, the theory goes that it will translate to success in all walks of life. Food for thought indeed!