First things first. This is not a self-help book. If you’re reading it expecting to find some kind of magic panacea for the lack of self control, you will be sorely disappointed. Instead, Walter Mischel delves into his in-depth study of the psychology of delayed gratification and how this is often a predictor of future successes in life.
The Marshmellow Test is, however, not an easy book to understand if you’re not grounded in psychology, or if you fall short of a decent level of comprehension. There are elaborate discussions of many dense subjects, including the “hot” and “cool” systems of the brain, nature vs nurture and the role of executive function (EF), which the author says is the key to the mastery of skills (such as self-control).
Even when it comes to the advice on how his findings can be applied to everyday life to help with self-control efforts, the mathematical model may be too hard for casual readers to grasp and apply consistently. The mathematical model appears in the last two chapters of the book.