Americans and Delayed Gratification (AKA discipline)

Well, this blog is happy to point to deficiencies in every culture, because the Kingdom of God is not any one culture, nor is it something apart from culture, but it is something divine that seeks to redeem and transform culture. That having been said here is some interesting stuff about Americans and their loss to delay gratification:

The remarkable thing about the study is that a student's ability at age four to defer gratification is correlated with better outcomes much later in life, such as academic and social competence. For example, one follow-up paper found a statistically significant relationship between how long a student waited to ring the bell and -- more than a decade later -- their "ability to cope with frustration and stress in adolescence."

New York Times columnist David Brooks has cited this study and inferred that most social problems are rooted in an inability to defer gratification. He argues that for people with poor self-control "life is a parade of foolish decisions: teen pregnancy, drugs, gambling, truancy and crime." I agree. I can find no other compelling explanation for why someone would do something as utterly ridiculous as dropping out of high school, no matter how bad the school is.

But I'll see David Brooks and raise him one. I find myself asking an even bigger question: Is America as a nation losing its ability to wait for the second marshmallow? By that, I mean can we still muster the political will and personal sacrifice to make investments today that will make us richer and stronger 10, 20, or 50 years from now?

From HERE.


Robert Sievers said…
Parents are not training their children to wait, becuase the parents themselves don't have the time to teach good habits to their children, and the cycle spirals downward.
Brett said…
I think time is the key factor. I remember reading that study in college you are referring to. With the creation of faster technology for communication and transport we expect things to happen at a faster pace. From horse carrier, to truck, to plane, to email. We are used to getting information as fast as possible. Business no longer measures service in months, weeks, or days, but days, hours, and seconds.

We can get streaming newscasts from our cellphones and Wikipedia to save us a library trip. Our businesses thrive on us being ADD because we need to stay just distracted enough to focus on ten different things at once.

I agree parents need to set limits, teach discipline, and teach the concept of delayed gratification. But in this day of streaming information. When magazines are failing because people dont want to read too much and need everything summarized in blog form. It is a real fight for them to even know what delayed gratification is anymore.
Abu Daoud said…
Robert and Brett,

I think that the main danger has to do with long-term delayed gratification, though that is also related to the short term I suppose. The fiscal policy of the federal government is a good example on a macro-level of how the US has largely lost its ability to sacrifice comfort right now for something good later on.
Rob said…
-the US has largely lost its ability to sacrifice comfort right now for something good later on.-

Call me a pessimist, but I agree 100%. Furthermore, I predict that we will never go to the moon again, though there are "plans" for it. It will be too inconvenient. In fact, when the Space Shuttle is retired in a couple years, I predict that we will never send a man into space again.

The heroic age of America is over. Private entities may go into space, yes, but the American public will no longer foot the bill for anything that doesn't immediately gratify their appetite for comfort, sex or food.

I would love to be proved wrong.

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