Strategic Allocation of Attention

Instead, Mischel discovered something interesting when he studied the tiny percentage of kids who could successfully wait for the second treat. Without exception, these “high delayers” all relied on the same mental strategy: They found a way to keep themselves from thinking about the treat, directing their gaze away from the yummy marshmallow. Some covered their eyes or played hide-and-seek underneath the desks. Others sang songs from Sesame Street, or repeatedly tied their shoelaces, or pretended to take a nap. Their desire wasn’t defeated, it was merely forgotten.

Mischel refers to this skill as the “strategic allocation of attention,” and he argues that it’s the skill underlying self-control.


Jonah Lehrer describes a characteristic of children who are later successful in life. They have much better self-control early in life, and they accomplish this by strategically allocating their attention elsewhere to avoid breaking the rules.

Folksonomies: attention cognition discipline

/family and parenting/children (0.500991)
/health and fitness/alternative medicine/homeopathy (0.448726)
/home and garden/home furnishings/sofas and chairs (0.256049)

strategic allocation (0.956005 (positive:0.352762)), Jonah Lehrer (0.795879 (neutral:0.000000)), better self-control (0.786800 (neutral:0.000000)), yummy marshmallow (0.754445 (positive:0.352990)), tiny percentage (0.738448 (positive:0.355563)), high delayers (0.704411 (neutral:0.000000)), mental strategy (0.702797 (negative:-0.280333)), Sesame Street (0.700241 (neutral:0.000000)), attention (0.685353 (positive:0.149006)), Mischel (0.630787 (positive:0.360970)), treat (0.563638 (positive:0.356108)), life (0.538966 (neutral:0.000000)), skill (0.531253 (positive:0.435760)), gaze (0.487161 (positive:0.352990)), shoelaces (0.485524 (negative:-0.245699)), nap (0.481813 (negative:-0.510419)), exception (0.478686 (negative:-0.231589)), desks (0.476458 (neutral:0.000000)), desire (0.471711 (neutral:0.000000)), children (0.469701 (neutral:0.000000)), eyes (0.468151 (neutral:0.000000)), rules (0.464097 (negative:-0.203756)), kids (0.462669 (positive:0.355563))

Mischel:Person (0.965465 (positive:0.395661)), Jonah Lehrer:Person (0.593170 (neutral:0.000000))

Strategy (0.930800): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Sesame Workshop (0.867723): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Joe Raposo (0.845550): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Psychology (0.781139): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
2000s American television series (0.754918): dbpedia
Jon Stewart (0.753939): website | dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago

 This Will Make You Smarter
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Brockman , John (2012-02-14), This Will Make You Smarter, HarperCollins, Retrieved on 2013-12-19
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: science


    05 JUN 2011

     Raising Enlightened Children

    Memes about raising children as a spiritual naturalist, with a sense of awe for the Universe and reverence for the laws of nature.