It's Official: Kids Work Better When Pretending to Be Batman. Might Adults?

Obviously, we now want the adult version of this research paper. The "Batman Effect": Improving Perseverance in Young Children by Rachel E. White and Emily O. Prager is the report os a study into the benefits of "self-distancing", taking an outsider's view of one's own situation, on young children's perseverance.

180 four-year-old and six-year-old children were asked to complete a repetitive task for 10 minutes while having the option to take breaks by playing an extremely attractive video game.

As you might have expected, six-year-olds persevered longer than four-year-olds.

But across both ages, children who impersonated "an exemplar other" — in the case of the study, the DC Comics character best known as Batman — spent the most time working, followed by children who took a third-person perspective on the self, or finally, a first-person perspective.

The paper explores and discusses alternative explanations, implications, and future research directions. It follows up another study in the same area, What would Batman do? Self-distancing improves executive function in young children also by Rachel E. White, but this time with Stephanie M. Carlson from 2015, which noted that three-year-olds did not display any change in their success rate.

But for me, the conclusion is simple: Cosplay in the classroom, the home, and, frankly, the office. With the financial market tanking, it's the only way to save the economy, education, and local fabric stores.

batman pete holmes
Comedian Pete Holmes in CollegeHumor's Batman parody.

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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