In the late 1960s, Walter Mischel conducted a series of experiments on delayed gratification in preschoolers that became known as the Marshmallow Test. A recent New Yorker article talks about the eventual path that his research took and its wider implications. New research points to specific differences in brain activity between people with good self control and people with poor self control.
Promising scientific findings aside, it's the (adorable) movie re-enactment of the marshmallow tests that is making news recently.
posted by hindmost
on Sep 18, 2009 -
Stickk.com allows people to undertake commitment bonds: promises that they will do something (lose weight, quit smoking, etc.) or else forfeit a pre-determined amount of money to a charity. Either the honor system or a referee can be used to decide if the goal is met. The idea is related to Nobel prize-winner Thomas Schelling's concept of strategic precommitment. More here, here, and here.
posted by shivohum
on Jan 18, 2008 -