Flowingly

"A mind stretched to a new idea can never go back to its original dimension"

The Power of Time Orientation – Philip Zimbardo @ TED

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Philip Zimbardo: “Now lets tempt four-year-olds, giving them a treat. They can have one marshmallow now. But if they wait until the experimenter comes back, they can have two. Of course it pays, if you like marshmallows, to wait. What happens is 2/3rds of the kids give in to temptation. They cannot wait. The others, of course, wait. They resist the temptation. They delay the now for later.

Walter Mischel, my colleague at Stanford, went back 14 years later, to try to discover
what was different about those kids.
There were enormous differences between kids who resisted and kids who yielded, in many ways. The kids who resisted scored 250 points higher on the SAT. That’s enormous. That’s like a whole set of different IQ points. They didn’t get in as much trouble. They were better students. They were self-confident and determined. And the key for me today, the key for you, is they were future-focused instead of present-focused.

So, very quickly, what is the optimal time profile?

  • High on past-positive.
  • Moderately high on future.
  • And moderate on present-hedonism.
  • And always low on past-negative and present-fatalism.

So the optimal temporal mix is

  • what you get from the past — past-positive give you roots. You connect your family, identity and your self.
  • What you get from the future is wings to soar to new destinations, new challenges.
  • What you get from the present hedonism is the energy, the energy to explore yourself, places, people, sensuality.”
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Written by flowingly

July 24, 2009 at 13:46

One Response

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  1. Wow. I think his theory has some very important implications. I’ve been reading Tal Ben Shahar’s book on the new field of Positive Psychology, “Happier,” and Zimbardo’s theory seems like a more complete theory of what Tal ben Shahar describes as the rat racer/hedonist continuum. Very interesting.

    Scott

    October 31, 2009 at 18:47


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