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A study has found that young children are better able to resist temptation and wait for greater rewards if they take into consideration the opinions of others. New research from the University of California at San Diego and Zhejiang Sci-Tech University conducted two experiments with 3 and 4 year olds in China in a new version of the classic “marshmallow test”. The children were given two options – receive one marshmallow immediately or wait and receive two. They were then given one of three outcomes: a teacher would be told how long they waited, a classmate would be told, or no instructions were given. Those who were given the first two scenarios waited longer in order to receive two marshmallows – in fact, children given the teacher scenario waited nearly twice as long. Since the project is designed to analyse the effects of ‘delayed gratification’, lead author Gail Heyman explains why young children could be so capable of waiting when others will find out: “One reason may be that the children who wait longer care more about what people around them value or are better at figuring it out.” The findings suggest that the desire to impress others is strong and can motivate human behaviour starting at a very young age. For more information, click here.

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