This was an interesting report on NPR a little while ago. A team of psychologists tracked a group of 1,000 people from birth through age 32. Their main finding is:
Three factors appear to be key to a person’s success in life: intelligence, family’s socioeconomic status and self-control. Moffitt’s study found that self-control predicted adult success, even after accounting for the participants’ differences in social status and IQ. IQ and social status are hard to change. But Moffitt says there is evidence that self-control can be learned. “Identical twins are not identical on self-control,” she says. “That tells us that it is something they have learned, not something they have inherited.”
Of course, this isn’t an entirely surprising finding. It makes intuitive sense that self-discipline and self-control are correlated with overall life success (as measured by not having a criminal record, financial stability, stable family relationships, etc.), but it’s nice to have it backed up with empirical evidence.
And that provides me with yet another reason to try to resist the second helping of dessert after dinner…