WALTER MISCHEL is internationally known as the inventor of the "Marshmallow Test, " widely recognized as one of the most famous and important experiments in the history of psychology. Based on experiments begun with preschool children at Stanford University's Bing Nursery School in the late 1960s, and still continuing, Mischel's studies opened a window for the modern scientific analysis of the cognitive and brain mechanisms that enable delay of gratification and self-control beginning early in life.
His work, now extensively replicated, has yielded surprisingly strong predictions for consequential health, wealth, and well-being outcomes over the life course. At the same time, his experiments also illuminated the underlying processes and cognitive skills essential for "willpower." His ideas and empirical findings have transformed the view of human nature and character, showing the crucial role of the social context and situations in the expression of individual differences in who we are and what we can become.
He is the third highest ranked currently living psychologist of the 20th Century according to the July, August 2002 APA Monitor on Psychology, which lists the 99 most "Eminent Psychologists of the 20th Century".
Since 1983 he has been at Columbia University, where he holds the Robert Johnston Niven chair as Professor of Humane Letters in Psychology. He is the author of over 200 scientific papers, and the popular textbook, Introduction to Personality, now in its 8th edition. His 1968 monograph Personality and Assessment, became an instant classic, and enduringly transformed the agenda of his field.