A class of preschool children are told by their teacher that she will leave them alone for twenty minutes, and hands out a single piece of marshmallow to each one. She then says that if upon her return, they still have managed not to eat the one marshmallow given them, they will be handed a second piece as reward.
This was an actual test on preschoolers performed more than fifty year ago at Stanford’s Bing Nursery School by Walter Mischel and his team. In the succeeding years and decades, each child was then continually monitored as to how they fared later in social life, and the findings of that experiment, now famously known as “The Marshmallow Test”, had yielded controversial but interesting results.
Apparently, the test had shown a relation that linked the children’s ability (or inability) to delay gratification with various aspects of later life, ranging from how well they scored in their scholastics assessment test (SAT), used as an admission requirement prior to university, up to their Body Mass Index (BMI) as grownups, among others. Understandably, these correlative findings have for years been the subject of much debate, from doctors to behavioral experts alike, and of course, including laymen. Up till this day, two distinct schools of thought fight it out, was Mischel’ conclusions correct, is their free will or is our fate and existence pre-determined?
A few days ago, the mayor announced that she will lower further the level of quarantine in the city. By such, the people will be more at liberty to go out and assume a semblance of normalcy, without the hassle of usual passes and other restrictions. The decision might have stemmed from Davao City, being compared to other metros in the country as a model, in terms of its low positive cases of Covid.
All these, with a catch of course: Hence forward, it will thus be the responsibility of each resident to self-regulate in all their dealings, so as to prevent being infected or spreading the virus in their localities. In short, the fight against Covid, as it should have been from the beginning, is returned and tasked to each and every one.
While the city and government, along with other institutions maintain their continued action at addressing the challenges posed by the pandemic, the reiteration that we all have to do our part, is once again brought to the fore, but this time, with consequences in bolder settings. More important, that lingering dependence, or even worse, that mendicant attitude of some people, can finally be done away with and replaced with actual responsibility, with self preservation as goal.
Also, the responsibility of self-regulating is being aware that, inasmuch as there are a lot of things that everyone wants to do, not all are necessarily the things that need to be done, at least right away. For example, office work, because it will entail traveling outside the house and risking contamination, can also be transposed into work-from-home schemes.
In parting, everything will boil down to a question of trust. Do you trust yourself that much that you will be dutiful, thereby acting responsibly, and preventing yourself from being infected? Being mindful of the thought of possibly infecting those whom you love, what amount of self-regulation or self-gratification are you willing to have?
Hala, that might depend on how many marshmallows you ate as a child.