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Walter Mischel and Collaborators Receive 2015 Golden Goose Award

Mischel_250Walter Mischel’s classic studies in childhood self-control, known popularly as the marshmallow tests, are among the most famous and impactful experiments in psychological science. Now, this research is earning special recognition from scientific, academic, and business organizations and federal lawmakers for having survived initial doubts to spawn major scientific breakthroughs.

Nearly 50 years after he employed the sugar candies to study children’s ability to delay gratification, Mischel, an APS Past President and Williams James Fellow, along with his colleagues, APS Fellow Yuichi Shoda (University of Washington) and Philip Peake (Smith College), have been selected to receive the first of the 2015 Golden Goose Awards in recognition of their extensive contributions to the understanding of the lifelong benefits of self-discipline.

Past recipients have included pioneers in other fields such as microbiology, marine geology, economics, computer science, mathematics, and biochemistry.

The congressionally endorsed Golden…

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Broadening the Reach of Mental Health Care Through Online Interventions

Effective, evidence-based interventions have been developed to treat various mental disorders — but that doesn’t mean the treatments always reach the people who need them. Researcher Ricardo F. Muñoz of the University of California San Francisco and colleagues wanted to see if making treatments available online might be one way to bring mental health care to a much broader range of people.

This is a photo of a cigarette on a calendar.In a new study published in Clinical Psychological Science, Muñoz and colleagues present data from an online smoking cessation intervention that was offered in both English and Spanish. Participants were recruited through a Google campaign that targeted people looking for help quitting smoking.

People who visited the intervention website had access to a free stop-smoking guide and a nicotine replacement therapy guide, even if they didn’t enroll in the…

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The Social Powers of Primates

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The biologist and primatologist Frans de Waal likes to show a video from 1936 of two chimpanzees moving a heavy box. They pull in tandem. They break in sync. They’re the ape equivalent of officemates. One of the chimps gets fed, and with his motivation removed, he’s suddenly much less interested in the job. But every time he tries to sneak away, his (still-hungry) partner taps him on the shoulder and gives him a look, as if to say, “Hey, buddy, back to work here!”

The clip still gets a laugh some 80 years after its creation, at least judging from the crowd at de Waal’s Bring the Family address on Saturday evening at the APS 2015 Annual Convention. But the scene is more than a hoot. It’s an early data…

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Portrait of Self-Control as a Young Process

NancyAmong the most famous self-control experiments of all-time, the “marshmallow” test conducted several decades ago by APS Past President Walter Mischel offered young children one marshmallow immediately or, if they were capable of delaying gratification, two later. When revisited as adults, the children who’d controlled themselves better that day also showed more success on a number of measures, from SAT scores to healthy body mass.

In the time since Mischel’s test, psychological science has learned a great deal about self-control — in particular, how it develops from a very early age. Much of that insight was on display during the presidential symposium organized by one of Mischel’s successors, APS President Nancy Eisenberg of Arizona State University, for the 2015 APS Annual Convention. The panel outlined the emergence of self-control networks from the initial months of infancy to the throes of…

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Mind Over Matter

Humans are an easily distracted species — if you don’t believe it, just look at everyone around you on a smartphone right now — but we’ve always longed for ways to regulate our own attention. In an ancient Hindu book called the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna remarks to Krishna that the mind “is as difficult to control as the wind.” The blessed lord replies that with practice and indifference to worldly objects, the mind indeed can be restrained.

In the 2,500 years since that conversation was recorded, psychological science has figured out quite a bit about controlling the mind, said APS William James Fellow Michael I. Posner of the University of Oregon during the Fred Kavli Keynote Address at the 2015 APS Annual Convention. We know how the attention system develops in childhood, how it operates in adults, and yes, how to restrain it with practice.

We even…

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