The most famous study in self-control is the Stamford marshmallow test. A group of 4 year old children were offered the choice of one marshmallow immediately or two marshmallows an hour later. The researcher came back 20 minutes later, as you would expect, some children took one marshmallow, and other children decided to wait and received two later. Fourteen years later, the children who delayed gratification were more positive, persistent when faced with life difficulties and were more self motivated while the children who chose one marshmallow were more indecisive, mistrustful of others, less self confident and often more troubled in general.
Instant coffee was invented in Guatemala in 1906 by an expatriate English chemist called George Constant Washington. Well, actually he was Belgian, but under Belgian law which considered fatherhood primary, he was a British subject until he was naturalized as an American in May 1918. After inventing instant coffee he went on to open a number of menageries in New York.
Marketed in 1909 as 'Red-E Coffee' it was the first successful mass-production of instant coffee. Soluble coffee had been made in 1867 in Chicago by a Japanese-American called Satori Kato, but without commercial success.
The first TV Dinner was a Thanksgiving meal of turkey, peas and sweet potatoes. It sold for 98 cents, and had a production estimate of 5,000 dinners for the first year, but they actually sold over 10 million.
The name comes not from the fact that you eat it in front of the TV, but for the shape of the container – with a large compartment and two smaller ones, it looked a bit like an old-style television.
Instant gratification is not soon enough.
Exercising self-control is such hard work, it measurably depletes our glucose levels.
Delayed Gratification is a quarterly magazine published by The Slow Journalism Company. It's described as an antidote to throwaway media and its slogan is 'last to breaking news'. You have to wait three months for a considered view of the news.
Unbridled gratification produces unbridled desire.
When attempting to avoid temptation, chimps resist their urges by distracting themselves. Researchers tested four adult chimpanzees with a candy dispenser, which steadily delivered enticing sweets every 30 seconds. As soon as the apes reached to get the accumulated candy, the dispenser stopped delivering any more. This meant that if the chimps resisted their impulses, they would earn a greater award. The chimpanzees also were sometimes given a set of toys, such as magazines, toothbrushes and rubber tubes. They were significantly better at coping with temptation when they could entertain themselves with toys.
Humans would traditionally have taken and eaten things as they found them; agriculture stopped all that as people had to wait for crops to grow. Agriculture began in the region between the borders of modern-day Iran, Iraq and Turkey around 10,000 years ago. On the face of it, hunter-gathering appears more efficient (you only need to work for around 5 hours a day) and you're much less susceptible to malnutrition and disease. So here are the competing theories as to why it happened...
Designer goods theory: The new grains were rare luxuries which gradually spread like a fashion might do today.
Ritual theory: the grains were used to make beer which was used in ritualistic acts.
Climate Change theory: the end of the ice age meant more forests and less open land in which to hunt; so people moved around less meaning agriculture could develop. Also the seasons became more pronounced, making farming more obvious.
Overpopulation theory: Hunter-gatherers were so successful that there were many more mouths to feed; farming was needed to give them regular meals.
Researchers at McMaster University in Canada, found that our reserves of willpower are finite, and if we use them to do one task, it depletes our willpower to carry out a new task.
Using the theory that reward works better than punishment, the Italians have a positive points system for their driving licenses.