A new marshmallow test for the information age

See original post and follow up discussion on /r/slatestarcodex here

Most people in this community are familiar with the marshmallow experiment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_marshmallow_experiment

A person’s ability to delay gratification correlates with all sorts of positive life outcomes.

I have come to realize there is an equivalent marshmallow-esque test relevant for the current information age, which I believe to be just as simple, important and predictive.

I believe one’s ability to act equanimous in light of observing something they view to be dumb/wrong/silly in a field they care about, is great parallel to the child who can delay eating the marshmallow.

Rather than measuring delayed gratification/intelligence, this test measures emotional maturity.

There is an internet meme on how to get a fast and accurate answer on the internet – you first write something wrong and wait for someone to immediately correct you with the right answer.

It appears to me that many humans cannot help themselves but to feel a strong emotional response when observing something they view to be incorrect/silly in a field they care about.

There has never been more information available and consequently, there has never been more wrong/dumb/silly takes out there for one to observe. In fact, through this mechanism, dumb/silly takes actually spread much faster than nearly everything else, making there be an even greater abundance of things out there for one to observe that they will find to be dumb/wrong/silly.

I believe this response applies to pretty much all fields one can hold strong opinions on, from basketball, to music, to restaurants or anything else.

Just like the marshmallow test, I view this test to be very predictive for both an individual and a group’s ability to “thrive” in the information age.

When one becomes fixated on things they find to be wrong/silly, it becomes much easier to overemphasize the importance of that wrong opinion and while being guided by emotions, weaken their ability to think clearly about the actual merits of the important and more relevant topics.

I believe that groups/nations where its constituents score better on this metric will be less polarized and more focussed on the things that actually matter while groups/nations that score worse will be more polarized and focussed on less important/common issues they find to be dumb rather than the issues that actually matter/are well represented.