In an infamous set of experiments performed in the 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel sat pre-school kids at a table, one by one, and placed a sweet treat - a small marshmallow, a biscuit, or a pretzel - in front of them. Each of the young participants was told that they would be left alone in the room, and that if they could resist the temptation to eat the sweet on the table in front of them, they would be rewarded with more sweets when the experimenter returned.

The so-called Marshmallow Test was designed to test self-control and delayed gratification. Mischel and his colleagues tracked some of the children as they grew up, and then claimed that those who managed to hold out for longer in the original experiment performed better at school, and went on to become more successful in life, than those who couldn't resist the temptation to eat the treat before the researcher returned to the room.

Related: The Homer Simpson effect: forgetting to remember ...[Continue reading on the Guardian]