Jackie Gingrich Cushman

The next step was to offer the children from either group the immediate reward of a single marshmallow or the option to wait for the researcher to return with two marshmallows.

The children in the unreliable group often immediately gobbled up the marshmallow as the researcher left. The children in the reliable group waited four times as long (12 minutes versus three).

For these children to delay gratification, they needed to understand that the promises they had received would be kept.

A recent study, "Time Preferences and Criminal Behavior," by David Akerlund, Bart H.H. Golsteyn, Hans Gronqvist and Lena Lindahl provides "the first assessment of the link between time preferences and criminal behavior," according to results published in the Institute for the Study of Labor Discussion Papers, May 2014.

According to the researchers, "time preferences significantly predict crime." In everyday terminology, this means that those who discount the future are more likely to engage in criminal activity. You have to believe you have a future to be concerned about your place in the future. The researchers further detailed that the "results potentially have other policy implications in the sense that early interventions that make individuals more future-oriented may be used as a tool to combat crime," and "increased education can be used as a way to combat crime (e.g. Lochner and Moretti 2004). One reason for this could be that education makes individuals more future oriented."

This could be the result of the underlying framework of the education system, especially colleges, where there are clear guidelines (professors' syllabi) and results based on students' achievements. This experience creates a framework of reward that reinforces virtues (hard work and perseverance).

When thinking about instilling virtues, it's important to remember that frameworks and foundations must come first.

To find out more about Jackie Gingrich Cushman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.



Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.