Arts and Culture Local News

A Columbia University professor who has spent decades studying human willpower is the recipient of the 2011 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Psychology.

Dr. Walter Mischel says his research has found that people can develop the ability to resist temptation.

“Once it is well understood –which is what we’ve been trying to do–the better one understands what enables willpower, the more possible it becomes to think about very specific ways of enhancing it in people and making it easier in people,” Mischel said in an interview with WFPL.

Mischel designed what’s come to be called “the marshmallow test,” in which preschool children learned to resist an immediate treat of a single marshmallow for the promise of a larger treat later.

U of L is also announcing Grawemeyer Awards this week for music composition, religion and ideas improving world order. An education award may be announced later. The Grawemeyer includes a $100,000 cash prize.

(Photo by Dieter Hoppe, courtesy of Columbia University)

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation."