The folks behind the Golden Goose Award have announced the first award for 2015. All of this year’s recipients will be recognized at the Library of Congress on September 17. The award seeks to highlight federally funded research that led to surprising breakthroughs. More specifically, the awards are trying to counter the criticism of scientific grants that appear silly or frivolous from cherry-picking the abstract.
This year’s first recipients are being recognized for work in psychology on delayed gratification. Walter Mischel, Philip Peake and Yuichi Shoda have worked on psychology research supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation about the cognitive mechanisms behind self control. A major part of this work is the marshmallow test, which is also the title of a book by Mischel on self control targeted for a general audience. The test is to put a treat (typically a marshmallow) in front of a person, with the following proposition: if you wait for (insert time here) you can get two treats.
This is the first Golden Goose Award that had significant coverage on late night television. The test was part of a program from Sesame Street, which in turn prompted coverage on The Colbert Report (where Mischel later promoted his book). Colbert will be on his new program by the time of the Golden Goose ceremony, so I suppose there’s an outside chance he will comment on it (unless nothing must be said of his old program on his new one).