More Evidence for Self-Control

by Robert Pondiscio
January 31st, 2011

Early to bed and early to rise may not make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.  But self-control just might.  A long-term study shows that kids who demonstrate early signs of self-control “were not only less likely to have developed addictions or committed a crime by adulthood, but were also healthier and wealthier than their more impulsive peers,” reports Time Magazine

“Kids who scored low on such measures — for instance, becoming easily frustrated, lacking persistence in reaching goals or performing tasks, or having difficulty waiting their turn in line — were roughly three times more likely to wind up as poor, addicted, single parents or to have multiple health problems as adults, compared with children who behaved more conscientiously as early as age 3.”

The Duke University study followed 1,000 children in New Zealand for more over 30 years and bolsters the findings of the now-famous “marshmallow study” which linked self-control with higher SAT scores later on.  “It’s a very cool study,” Dr. Bruce Perry of Northwestern University tells the magazine.  “This is taken from data from what is probably the best long-term study in our field.”

Only 10% of children in the “high self-control” group grew up to earn less than $20,000 per year compared with one in three of more impulsive kids.