Resisting temptation

The Walter Mischel experiment

  • Put out a jelly baby for each student. Tell them that if they can leave that jelly baby there for the duration of the lesson, they can have another one.


  • Play the ‘clocky’ video. Why would someone need to invent something like clocky? What does it tell us about human beings?
  • ‘The path to hell is paved with good intentions.’ Ask students to think of good intentions that they have had in the past which have been scuppered by temptation: e.g. the intention to get up at 6:30am to go for a run, scuppered by the temptation to get more sleep.
  • Ask students to describe what goes on when they give in to temptation: what thoughts do they have; what intentions/desires do they have; what do they feel in their bodies?
  • Give students the info on executive function: the part of the brain that controls our desires and impulses.

Back to the jelly baby

  • Who still has their jelly baby? how did those who still have it, manage to resist the temptation to eat it: what thoughts did they employ? Did they behave differently (e.g. not look at the jelly baby)?
  • Play the video about Walter Mischel’s marshmallow experiment
  • Discuss strategies for developing executive function: how can we modify our behaviour so that we are self-disciplined and don’t give in to our desires?
  • At the end of the lesson, see who has managed to resist the urge to eat the jelly baby and reward them accordingly.

Prep: identify temptations and see if you can develop strategies to resist them. write about your experiences.