MONDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Kids who have trouble resisting temptation are more likely than patient preschoolers to grow into adults who lack self-control, a new study suggests.
"What we're seeing is that there are some individuals who consistently presented as high or low delayers," lead study author B.J. Casey, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, said.
Prior research has shown that people who have trouble delaying gratification have lower SATs scores on average, higher body mass indexes (BMIs), higher divorce rates and a higher risk of substance abuse, Casey said.
Forty years ago, researchers put a group of 4-year-olds through a classic test designed to measure self-control. The kids were left in a room with a cookie or a marshmallow treat (whichever they preferred). An adult told the children if they could wait for him to return, they could have two cookies or two treats instead of just one.
Kids also had the option of ringing a bell on a desk while the adult was away, in which case the experimenter would run back, and the child could eat one treat but not the second.
The kids were then rated as either having low, average or high self-control depending on how long they could wait to eat the treat.
Followed through adolescence and into adulthood, many of the original 500 participants provided assessments of their self-control in their 20s and 30s. In their mid-40s today, 59 of them took another test to measure their self-control and ability to delay gratification.
In the new test, reported in the Aug. 30 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the adults were shown images of either smiling, fearful or neutral faces, and instructed to press a button based on the facial expression.
The concept is that a smiling fac
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