Predict My Future: The Science of Us

https://www.tvo.org/video/documentaries/predict-my-future-the-science-of-us/ep-1-the-early-years

Transcript: Ep. 1 - The Early Years | Feb 07, 2019

WHAT IS IT THAT DETERMINES OUR PERSONALITY? OUR FUTURE HEALTH, WEALTH AND HAPPINESS?

SO WHAT IT IS THAT MAKES SOMEONE SUCCESSFUL IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Prof. Terrie Moffitt says

MY MONEY WAS ON INTELLIGENCE AS THE BEST PREDICTOR OF SUCCESS IN LATER LIFE. I THOUGHT IF WE TOOK ACCOUNT OF CHILDREN'S INTELLIGENCE, WE WOULD FIND THAT THE BRIGHT CHILDREN HAD A SUCCESS LIFE, AND THE DULL CHILDREN DID NOT.

BUT THE DUNEDIN STUDY FOUND THE MOST POWERFUL PREDICTOR OF SUCCESS IN LIFE WAS SOMETHING ELSE. SOMETHING THE STUDY MEASURED IN FOUR-YEAR-OLDS, THAT 30 YEARS LATER, ACCURATELY PREDICTED THE INCOME AND JOB STATUS OF THE SAME CHILDREN WHEN THEY WERE GROWN UP. THAT MEASURE WAS SELF-CONTROL.

ARE YOU IN COMMAND OF YOURSELF, OR IS YOURSELF IN COMMAND OF YOU? AND THERE ARE PLENTY OF PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO EXPLODE. AND IT'S SORT OF LIKE, THEY DIDN'T CHOOSE TO EXPLODE, IT JUST HAPPENED. WHEREAS OTHER PEOPLE MAY FEEL THE SAME IRRITATION, EVEN THE
SAME ANGER, BUT TAKE THE DEEP BREATH, AND CAN DOWN-REGULATE THAT AND CONTROL IT.
NOW, ONE OF THE INTERESTING QUESTIONS BECOMES, WHAT HAPPENS TO THREE-YEAR-OLDS AND
TEN-YEAR-OLDS OR ADOLESCENCE WHO HAVE A LITTLE VERSUS A LOT OF SELF-CONTROL?

THE DUNEDIN STUDY WAS IN A PERFECT POSITION TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION, AS IT HAD BEEN FOLLOWING THE SAME PEOPLE FOR OVER 40 YEARS. AND WHAT THEY FOUND WAS EXTRAORDINARY.

SELF-CONTROL, MEASURED FOR THE FIRST TIME AT THREE, IS FORECASTING WHETHER OR NOT YOU'RE MARRIED OR NOT, IN A STABLE RELATIONSHIP. WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAVE A GOOD
JOB HISTORY OR BAD JOB HISTORY, AND WHETHER OR NOT YOU'RE DOING WELL HEALTH WISE
OR NOT. AND THAT'S REMARKABLE TO SEE THAT LONG LEGACY OF CHILDHOOD FUNCTIONING INTO MIDDLE AGE, AND INTO SUCH A WIDE ARRAY OF CHARACTERISTICS OF WHO WE ARE.

Now several 4-year-olds sit at a metal table with a marshmallow on a plate.
The narrator says ONE OF THE BEST
KNOWN DEMONSTRATIONS OF
SELF-CONTROL IS THE
MARSHMALLOW TEST FIRST
CONDUCTED AT STANFORD
UNIVERSITY IN THE 1960s.
FOUR-YEAR-OLDS WERE PLACED IN
A ROOM WITH A MARSHMALLOW AND
GIVEN A SIMPLE CHOICE.
EAT THE MARSHMALLOW NOW, OR
HOLD OUT FOR 15 MINUTES AND
THEN HAVE TWO.

IT'S EITHER I IMPULSIVELY EAT IT NOW BECAUSE I CAN'T CONTROL MYSELF, OR I WAIT, AND I GET SOMETHING BETTER. CAN YOU CONSTRAIN YOUR IMPULSES? BECAUSE EVERYBODY WANTS TO
GRAB IT AND EAT IT. SOME OF THE TECHNIQUES THE CHILDREN USED ARE VERY INTERESTING.
THEY LOOK AWAY... THEY DISTRACT THEMSELVES. WHERE ONE OF THE WORST THINGS
YOU CAN DO IS JUST LOOK AT IT, AND LOOK AT IT, AND SALIVATE, AND YOU CAN'T STOP YOURSELF.
BUT THE KIDS WHO DEVELOP SELF-CONTROL HAVE ALREADY LEARNED AT THE RIPE OLD AGE
OF THREE OR FOUR, NOT TO LOOK AT IT. DISTRACT THEMSELVES. BECAUSE THEY'VE ACQUIRED
KNOWLEDGE FROM THOSE AROUND THEM, HEY, IF I TELL YOU YOU CAN'T DO SOMETHING, DON'T GO
HANG AROUND IT, GO FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO DO.

DUNEDIN RESEARCHERS FIRST MEASURED SELF-CONTROL WHEN THE STUDY MEMBERS WERE YOUNG CHILDREN. WHAT IS STARTLING IS WHAT THOSE MEASURES WERE ABLE TO PREDICT ABOUT THE CHILDREN'S FUTURE PROSPECTS. IN ALMOST EVERY MEASURE OF SUCCESS, SELF-CONTROL MADE A HUGE DIFFERENCE.

CHILDREN WHO HAD HIGH SELF-CONTROL AT AGE THREE TO FIVE, LATER IN THEIR THIRTIES OWNED THEIR HOMES, WERE BUSINESS ENTREPRENEURS, HAD SOLID JOBS, HAD STARTED SAVING FOR
RETIREMENT, AND WERE CONSIDERED GOOD MONEY MANAGERS BY THEIR FRIENDS. WHEREAS STUDY MEMBERS WHO HAD POOR SELF-CONTROL IN EARLY CHILDHOOD WERE IN TROUBLE WITH
DEBT, HAD POSSESSIONS REPOSSESSED, HAD BANKRUPTCY PROBLEMS, AND THEY TENDED TO
BE CONSIDERED AS POOR MONEY MANAGERS BY THEIR FRIENDS WHO KNEW THEM WELL.

FOR THOSE WITH LOW LEVELS OF SELF-CONTROL, THE PROBLEMS ARE NOT JUST FINANCIAL.
THE DUNEDIN STUDY DISCOVERED LOW SELF-CONTROL IN CHILDREN PRODUCED A RAFT OF PHYSICAL PROBLEMS IN LATER LIFE. THESE INCLUDE OBESITY, HIGH CHOLESTEROL, HIGH BLOOD
PRESSURE, HEART DISEASE, AND SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS. CHILDREN WITH POOR
SELF-CONTROL ARE ALSO MORE LIKELY TO GROW UP TO BE ADDICTED TO TOBACCO, ALCOHOL
OR DRUGS.

BAD FUNCTIONING PSYCHOLOGIES AND BEHAVIOURS GO ALONG WITH BAD FUNCTIONING BODIES.
NOT JUST IN THE HERE AND NOW, BUT OVER THE LONG TERM. AND THAT'S AN EXPENSIVE COST
FOR THE INDIVIDUAL, FOR THE COMMUNITY, AND THEIR SOCIETY.

TO SELF-REGULATE, TO SELF-CONTROL, WHETHER YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT OBESITY, WHETHER YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT SMOKING, WHETHER YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT A WIDE VARIETY
OF DRUG USAGE AND SO FORTH, SELF-CONTROL, SELF-REGULATION PLAYS A VERY IMPORTANT ROLE.

THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT SELF-CONTROL IS NOT FIXED. IT CAN BE IMPROVED.

WHAT PROMOTES SELF-CONTROL, OR SELF-REGULATION IN CHILDREN? WELL, WE KNOW FROM LOTS OF WORK THAT SENSITIVE RESPONSIVE PARENTING IN INFANCY STARTS IT OFF THE BAT.
BEING FIRM AND CONSISTENT IN DISCIPLINE STARTING IN THE SECOND AND THIRD YEAR OF LIFE
DOES IT. HAVING PEERS WHO ARE THEMSELVES SELF-REGULATED, UNDER CONTROL, AND ENFORCE
NORMS OF SOCIAL BEHAVIOR THAT SAY, HEY, WE DON'T DO THAT. YOU WANT TO BE MY FRIEND,
YOU'RE NOT GOING TO ACT LIKE THAT. SO THERE ARE A MULTIPLICITY OF FACTORS. AND IT'S NOT JUST THE KIDS WITH LOW SELF-CONTROL WHO CAN IMPROVE. ANYONE CAN.

WHAT THE DUNEDIN STUDY SUGGESTS IS THAT ALL CHILDREN COULD BENEFIT FROM LEARNING BETTER SELF-CONTROL SKILLS. EVEN THOSE WHO ALREADY HAVE AVERAGE SELF-CONTROL CAN GET BETTER, TO THEIR BENEFIT IN MID-LIFE.

IN FACT, PROFESSOR JAMES HECKMAN IS USING THE DUNEDIN RESULTS AND ADVISING THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT TO TEACH SELF-CONTROL IN SCHOOLS. HE BELIEVES THERE WILL BE HUGE
BENEFITS TO THE U.S. ECONOMY, AND THE SAVINGS WILL BE IMMENSE.

NO QUESTION ABOUT IT. BILLIONS. TRILLIONS. WHEN A PRE-DIABETIC PERSON IS TOLD LOSE WEIGHT, EXERCISE, AVOID CERTAIN RISKS, MANY PEOPLE DON'T DO IT. WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE?
THE ONES WHO ARE UNABLE TO ESSENTIALLY REGULATE THEIR OWN LIVES. WHETHER IT'S IN HEALTH, WHETHER IT'S IN A NUMBER OF AREAS OF LIFE. THEN YOU SAY, CAN YOU DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT? YOU SAY, IS THIS A TRAIT YOU'RE FIXED WITH? IS IT SET IN STONE? THE ANSWER IS NO.
THESE TRAITS EMERGE. AND WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEM. THAT'S THE HOPE IN PUBLIC
POLICY.

CHILDHOOD IS A TIME OF HOPE AND POSSIBILITY FOR BOTH PARENTS AND CHILDREN.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? ARE YOU GOING TO BE IN THE
CIRCUS OR SOMETHING?

ONE OF THE OBJECTIVES OF A LONGITUDINAL STUDY IS TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE CHALLENGING JOURNEY BETWEEN CHILDHOOD AND ADULTHOOD. THE DUNEDIN STUDY HAS FOUND THAT MANY ADULT PROBLEMS BEGIN MUCH EARLIER IN LIFE THAN WE PREVIOUSLY IMAGINED. BUT THE STUDY ALSO FOUND OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE OF THE BENEFIT OF A GOOD START IN LIFE.

IT MIGHT COME AS A SURPRISE TO KNOW THAT HAVING A GOOD CHILDHOOD, A BALANCED AND
PREDICTABLE FAMILY ENVIRONMENT, WHERE PARENTING IS WARM AND SENSITIVE AND STIMULATING, SETS PEOPLE UP ON A REALLY GOOD LIFE TRAJECTORY.

AT THE START OF THIS EPISODE, WE ASKED THE QUESTION, WHAT REALLY MAKES US WHO WE ARE?

THE MESSAGE IS THE SAME FOR ANYONE WANTING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLE'S LIVES,
FROM PARENTS TO POLICYMAKERS. PERHAPS ONE OF THE MOST PROFOUND TRUTHS OF THE DUNEDIN STUDY IS ALSO ONE OF THE SIMPLEST.

THE EARLY YEARS ARE ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL FOR HOW A PERSON'S LIFE TURNS OUT.
AND IF YOU REALLY WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR PEOPLE, WHEN THEY ARE ADULTS, OR WHEN THEY ARE OLD, EVEN, INTERVENING EARLY AND GETTING IT RIGHT IS THE KEY. THAT'S WHERE YOUR MONEY SHOULD GO. THAT'S WHERE YOUR FOCUS SHOULD BE, THOSE EARLY YEARS. THEY ARE SEMINAL IN ALL SORTS OF WAYS.

Watch: Ep. 1 - The Early Years

Studies show badminton can extend life expectancy

Life is better with badminton it – and now that life could be a little longer too, suggests new research carried out into the impact of selected sports and exercise on life expectancy.

Whatever your New Year’s resolutions, the benefits of playing regular badminton as part of an active lifestyle have long been a virtue when it comes to improving overall health, wellbeing and fitness.

Now, it has been statistically suggested, by studies in Denmark, that actually swinging a racket on a badminton court with friends and family can extend your life expectancy more than other sports and exercise typically associated with ‘getting fit’.

In fact, smashing shuttlecocks even to the point of raising your heart rate a little, can add an average 6.2 years to your life.

https://youtu.be/NpXo8_ZwLs4


That’s right. According to research in Copenhagen tracking the lifetime activity of 9,000 people for up to 25 years as part a long-running study into heart health, it was identified that racket sports with an strong and enriched social connectedness– such as badminton – alongside team sports can extend longevity by as much as 9 years.

OK, so we admit our friends at tennis topped the list but the benefits of badminton more also aced it.
Badminton even left the traditional aerobic exercises of jogging (3.2 years), swimming, cycling and going to the gym (1.5 years) for dead when it came to putting a few extra miles on your life expectancy.

This research follows a 2017 survey of more than 80,000 British men and women that found those who played racket sports tended to outlive joggers.
It also supports common medical theory that playing badminton until you experience mild breathlessness regularly in middle age can reduce chances of premature death by about 23% in the subsequent 20 years.

One thing is for sure, there are no excuses for staying away from the badminton court as we enter a brand-new year - and there are over 22,000 courts in England to choose from too.