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Developmental psychology

The significance of willpower

München, 11/18/2016

The eminent psychologist Walter Mischel, inventor of the iconic marshmallow test, will give a public lecture at LMU’s Center for Advanced Studies on November 24th.

Foto: auremar /

The marshmallow test was designed by Walter Mischel in the 1960s to assess levels of self-control in children. They were offered a treat (a marshmallow in the original version) and told they could eat it now or wait for a few minutes until the experimenter returned, in which case they could have two marshmallows. The test has become a classic experimental paradigm in developmental psychology. As longitudinal studies have shown, this measure of the capacity for self-control also enables one to make predictions with regard to certain aspects of the child’s subsequent personal development. On November 24th, Mischel, who is now a psychology professor at Columbia University in New York, will give a public lecture at the Center for Advanced Studies on the significance of the ability (or inability) to defer the gratification of one’s desires.

“Of all developmental psychologists, Walter Mischel is the one who has focused most intensely on questions relating to self-control and willpower. His findings in relation to the links between self-control and psychosocial development are remarkable, and his research has become an integral part of standard textbooks,” says Markus Paulus, Professor of Developmental Psychology at LMU, who will introduce the speaker and chair the discussion. Mischel’s talk is part of a CAS Research Focus on Moral Behavior, in which the topic is treated from economic, philosophical, political and psychological perspectives.

For further information, see:

Public Lecture at the CAS: Deconstructing Resistance to Temptation

CAS Research Focus Moral Behavior

Developmental psychology: Me and the others