Friday, December 01, 2006


A few weeks ago, I took this awesome design patterns class. I asked a question about some pattern that he kept referring to but hadn't actually described, and he told this story about a study involving children and rewards. He said children were offered the choice of one cookie now or two cookies later. They tracked these kids, and the ones who understood delayed gratification (taking the two cookies after some waiting) did better in life than the ones who didn't. At the time I was rather offended by his telling me this (I'm already a big fan of delayed gratification, and if the point was to make us pay attention to that pattern by making us curious about it, it had long since been satisfied and was starting to really bug me). But it is an interesting example. What other analogies can we find?

Stock market: one cookie now, or a decent chance at three cookies later (and if not, none or one)

Venture capital: one cookie now, or a small chance of getting 20 cookies later

401(k): one cookie now, or 5 cookies later, but you might not be able to taste them

Higher education: a quarter of a cookie a day for the next two weeks, and 5 cookies a day for the next 10 weeks after that

Car maintenance: give up one cookie every 3000 miles, or give up all your cookies for a month at some point in the future

Marriage: start by making your favorite kind of cookie and giving it up to someone else, and eating their favorite cookies, and if you're lucky you either like each other's cookies, or each of you is good at, and doesn't mind, making the kind the other likes

Having kids: throwing up cookies now, for a long time, with a chance at a truckload of cookies later, but you don't know if any will be a kind of cookie you like

Go on, psychoanalyze me.

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Blogger Nikki said...

This is AWESOME. I might add to the higher education part: some of us will probably still only be having half a cookie for years to come, even after the education is completed. However, this is in exchange for being able to play all afternoon. So it's not so bad. :)

12/05/2006 3:57 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Or that you have to eat your veggies too, but that's okay, because you really like veggies :-)

12/05/2006 11:24 AM  

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