More Important than IQ

Ayelet Fishbach from "What Are You Waiting For? "Freakonomics Radio, Aug. 10, 2016:

There is a ton of evidence connecting low patience with negative outcomes, which could be career, academic, health, financial, and so on.

But there is relatively less on how to do that, how to make people more patient, and getting people to pause and wait and not act on their immediate desire is actually one way in which we can get them to be more patient in the long run. And lines might happen to do that even though they are rarely intended to help people develop character — actually they are never intended to help people develop their ability to wait longer.

Kids that are more patient have more friends, get better grades, get better SAT scores. When they grow up, people that are more patient are able to study and to advance their career. They are able to maintain their marriage.

There are several studies that show that many problems in life — addiction, not being able to keep a job, are associated with low self-control.

Craving to Quit is a 21-day program to help you quit smoking.

Certainly drinking, smoking, are associated with low self-control. Basically, the person needs immediate self-gratification and is unwilling to wait for the larger, later reward, which is to be healthy in the long run.

I’m not saying that standing in lines is going to be the only way, or the main way, to improve people’s patience. But certainly being patient is a key to being successful. There’s a lot of research on self-control and how that it's basically more important than having a high IQ for being successful in life.


Ayelet Fishbach is a professor of behavioral science and marketing at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.