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著名的棉花糖实验真的可以验证人的意志力吗? – 译学馆
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著名的棉花糖实验真的可以验证人的意志力吗?

How The Famous "Marshmallow Test" Got Willpower Wrong

《心理科学秀》
SciShow PSYCH
你也许听说过“意志力是成功的秘诀”
You may have heard that willpower is the secret to success
你可以让五岁小孩做个超简单的测试
and there’s a super simple test you can give to 5 year olds
来看看他们有没有意志力
to see if they’ve got it.
这就是著名的“棉花糖实验”
It’s come to be known as The Marshmallow Test
因为这个实验是用一些好吃的东西(譬如一颗棉花糖)来引诱这些孩子
because it involves tempting them with a tasty treat like a marshmallow
看他们能否为了得到更好的奖励而等待
and seeing whether they can wait to get an even better treat
如果能抵抗诱惑 那他们命中注定是优秀的!
If they can they’re destined for greatness!
但结果表明 这个广为人知的心理测试
But it turns out this widely popular psychological exam
并没有我们曾经认为的那么有预见性
isn’t as predictive as we once thought
尽管它的确让我们稍微了解到
And while it has taught us a bit about
自我控制和抵抗诱惑是如何发挥作用的
how self control and resisting temptation work
但它衡量的可能并不是意志力
it’s probably not measuring willpower after all
20世纪60年代末开始
It all began in the late 1960s
心理学家们对32名儿童开展了这项著名的测试
when psychologists gave 32 kids this now famous challenge
研究人员在每个孩子面前放了一颗棉花糖
Researchers put a marshmallow in front of them
并告诉他们可以选择
and told them they had a choice:
立马吃了它
they could eat it now
或者先不吃 等到十五分钟后
Or if they could wait 15minutes
研究人员回来再给他们一颗
the researcher would come back with another one
那样他们就能得到两颗棉花糖
and then they could have two
很快 他们就有了一些有趣的发现
Right away they found some interesting things —
那些用更开心的想法分散注意力的孩子
like kids who distracted themselves with happier thoughts could wait longer
能比那些只关注棉花糖的孩子等待更长时间
than kids who focused on the marshmallow
于是他们在20世纪70年代初对数十个孩子做了测试
So they had dozens more kids take the test in the early 1970s
然后等他们长大后再进行回访
Then they checked back in on them as they grew up
这时情况变得怪异
which is when things got weird
研究人员最终在20世纪80年代末联系上了
Researchers were able to get in touch with 94 kids
参与了早期研究的94个孩子
that participated in those early studies in the late 1980s
结果发现 那些能更好地抵制棉花糖诱惑的孩子
and it turned out those who did better at fighting the temptation
在学术能力评估测试中的成绩也较好
of the marshmallow did better on the SAT.
又过了十年 科学家们再次进行了跟踪调查
After another decade the scientists followed up again
发现那些愿意等待的孩子在学业上走的更远
and found those who waited continued further in their education
又过了十年 你瞧
Another decade passed and lo and behold
这些孩子已经成年
these now-adults revealed that
调查表明 他们小时候越有耐心
the more patient they were as kids
他们成年后的平均身体质量指数越低
the lower their body mass index was on average
对心理学家来说 结论再清楚不过了
This seemed to paint a pretty clear pictureto psychologists:
意志力是一种重要的品质
willpower is a really important trait
且这种品质经久不衰
that’s pretty stable over time
你有多少意志力在你的孩童时期就已经确定
and how much of it you have is set early on in life
很快 家长们知道这个说法后对此深信不疑
Soon, parents heard all this and took it toheart.
他们以为只要让孩子们等待第二颗棉花糖
They thought if they could just get their kids to wait for that second marshmallow
便是为孩子们建立了更美好的生活
they’d be setting them up for a better life
演员汤姆·希德勒斯顿甚至造访《芝麻街》
The actor Tom Hiddleston even visited Sesame Street
告诉饼干怪等待第二块饼干的重要性
to teach Cookie Monster about the importance of waiting for the second cookie!
但对“棉花糖实验”的进一步研究表明
But continued research into the marshmallow test suggests that
它从一开始就根本不能真正衡量人的意志力
it never really measured willpower in the first place
一部分原因是
That’s partly because
心理学家们不再将“意志力”看作是单独存在的
psychologists don’t really think of “willpower” as its own thing anymore
你得考虑将意志力用于哪一方面
You have to take into account what you’re exerting power over
如果你在进行自我控制
— if you’re exerting self-control
那么你又是在与什么冲动做抗争呢?
what’s the impulse you’re fighting?
这就是所谓的“奖励反应”
This is what’s called a reward response.
基本上 当你看到一些能满足生理需求的东西
Basically when you see something that serves a biological need
如食物 性 甚至是社会认可时
like food or sex or even social acceptance
你大脑中的某些区域会变得十分活跃
some regions of your brain get really active
其中一个区域叫做腹侧纹状体
One such region is called the ventral striatum
特别是一个叫伏隔核的部位
in particular the part of it called the nucleus accumbens.
这个反应因人而异
And this response varies from person to person
并且取决于他们能得到的奖励
and depending on the thing that’s rewarding them
例如 当吸烟者在接受脑部扫描的同时看到别人吸烟的照片
Like smokers shown pictures of other people smoking while having their brain scan
他们显示出的奖励反应比非吸烟者大得多
showing a much bigger reward response than non-smokers
你对某物的奖励反应越强烈
And the stronger the reward response you have to something
抵抗它所需的自制力就越大
the more self-control you need to abstain
你可以将奖励反应想象为汽车的汽油
You can think of the reward response kind of like car’s gas
把自制力想象为汽车的刹车
and self-control like its brakes
如果你开车一直不快
You don’t need your brakes to work great
那么你就不需要特别灵敏的刹车
if your car never gets going that fast
但如果你的油门越是灵敏
but the more sensitive the gas pedal is
那么你的刹车就越发重要
the more important your brakes are
从最初参与棉花糖实验的孩子们的近期记录可发现
And a recent check-in with kids from the original marshmallow study found
他们也出现了这种奖励反应
that this was part of their story too
其中26个被试者在完成“按或不按”任务的同时接受了脑部扫描
26 of them had their brains scanned while completing a go/no-go task
当一些面部表情出现时他们需要按下按钮
meaning they had to click a button when some emotional faces were presented
而另一些表情出现时 他们要行使自制力
but exercise self-control for other faces
结果表明 在四岁时等待第二颗棉花糖的人
And you could see a difference in their brains of the ones
脑部扫描结果与其他人有所不同
that waited for a second marshmallow at age 4
但是这种不同并不出现在与自制力相关的大脑区域如前额皮质
But, that difference wasn’t in regions associated with self-control like the prefrontal cortex.
而是出现在腹侧纹状体
It was in that ventral striatum
相较于挣扎的人等待的人的腹侧纹状体被激活的程度较小
Those who had waited had less activation compared to those who struggled
所以 他们并不是发挥了更强的意志力
So it wasn’t like they were exerting more willpower,
只是他们需要控制的冲动比较弱
they just had a weaker impulse to control
最初的棉花糖实验
The original marshmallow test also failed
也没有考虑到一些非常重要的因素
to take some other really important factors into account
比如 他们没有衡量这些小孩在多大程度上
like, they didn’t measure how much the kids trusted the experimenter
相信实验人员真的会给他们第二颗棉花糖
to actually give them that second marshmallow
研究表明 如果人们不相信真的会有奖励
Studies have shown that pretty much no one waits around for some hypothetical reward
那么几乎不会有人等待这个假想的奖励
if they don’t believe it’s actually coming
2018年发表的一项研究中
And in a study published in 2018
一些研究者试图复制最初那个实验
some researchers tried to replicate the original study
但此次受测人员超过900人
but this time with over 900 people
他们发现
They found that yes
等待第二颗棉花糖和衡量成就的标准
there’s a relationship between waiting for a second marshmallow
(比如标准测试成绩)之间确实存在关联
and measures of achievement like standardized test scores
但这似乎可能是“相关不是因果”的典型例子
But it looks like it might be one of those classic correlation-isn’t-causation things
因为当他们控制其他因素
Because after they controlled for other factors
比如家庭环境 家庭收入 社会经济地位后
in their home environment and family’s income and socioeconomic status
这些效应几乎都消失了
the effect all but disappeared
这就显示如果你在足够富裕
This would suggest it’s not willpower that matters so much
且充满了父母关爱的家庭环境下长大
as the benefits of having wealth and being raised in a home environment
意志力并不那么重要
where your parents can give you a lot of attention
所以现在似乎可以很明确的说
So now it seems pretty clear that
影响意志力的因素有很多
there are a lot of factors that affect willpower
而这些因素都不是从4岁始就一成不变的
And none of them are set in stone at age 4
事实上 现有的证据表明
In fact current evidence suggests
成年人一样可以学习运用更大的意志力
that you can learn how to exert more willpower as an adult
同其他许多事情一样 自制力也可通过练习提高
Like with most things you can improve yourself-control with practice
一项研究将69个志愿者随机分成
One study randomized 69 volunteers
几个不同的自制力训练小组和一个控制组
into one of several different self-control practice conditions or a control group
训练组的志愿者们用两周的时间
The volunteers who practiced spent two weeks
维持自己的体态
either focusing on their posture
保持心情愉快 或者追踪他们的饮食
on staying in a positive mood or tracking their eating
两周后 不同的训练使得他们在完成握力任务时的耐力
And all these different practices improved their endurance on a hand-grip task
比控制组来得大
at the end of the two weeks compared to the control group
但是当你在特定场合缺乏意志力时
But when it comes to specific cases where you feel you lack willpower
心理学家会推荐的方法非常简单
what many psychologists recommend is much simpler
改变你所处的环境即可
just change your environment
这样 你就不必运用很强的自制力
so you don’t have to exert so much self-control in the first place
比如 如果柜台上有一包饼干
Like, if you’ve got a package of cookies on the counter
而食品室里有一个健康小吃
and a healthy snack in the pantry
你应该把这两个的位置换一下
you should probably switch those
因为如果那些饼干正好放你面前
Because if those cookies are right in front of you
你会想吃掉它们
you’re going to want to eat them
而且没人可以永远控制住这个冲动
and no one can control that impulse forever
谢谢观看
Thanks for watching!
如果你想知道自制力的真相
If you liked learning the truth about self-control
有一期节目你可能会喜欢
you might like our episode on how you don’t
它的主题是为何你不如自己想象中那么有自制力
have as much control over things as you think
但有一件事是你能控制的
But one thing you can control is
那就是你是否观看我们的每一期《心理科学秀》!
whether you catch every episode of SciShow Psych!
你只需点击订阅按钮即可
All you have to do is click that subscribe button
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著名的棉花糖实验真的可以验证一个人的意志力吗?然而一次又一次的实验表明,事实并不是这样的。

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