Education Obituary


September 25, 2018 1 min read

Walter Mischel, a Columbia University psychologist and the author of landmark studies on child development and self-control, died Sept. 12. He was 88.

Mischel was perhaps best known for a series of studies that came to be known as the “marshmallow test,” which has helped shape social-psychology research and the modern school approach to children’s social-emotional development.

More than 45 years ago, he led a team of Stanford University researchers who asked 4-year-olds to hold off eating one treat in exchange for the promise of two later. Fewer than 1 in 3 children were able to wait the full 15 minutes—but in the decades that followed, Mischel and other researchers found those who had waited for the extra treat were more likely to achieve academically and maintain healthy habits than peers who couldn’t hold out.

A version of this article appeared in the September 26, 2018 edition of Education Week as Obituary