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Licensed dress-up helps kids concentrate

New research has found that kids aged between four and six-years-old perform better during boring tasks when dressed as Batman.

Rachel White, from Hamilton College, and Emily Prager and Catherine Schaefer from the University of Minnesota, designed an experiment to see what makes kids stay on task when presented with temptation.

The study saw scientists give 180 children a dull computer task which they asked them to do for ten minutes. The children were also told that if they got bored, they could play on an iPad which was in the testing room.

Sister title Party Worldwide reported that of the 180 children, 60 were told to ask themselves ‘Am I working hard?’ and 60 were told to think of themselves in the third person and ask themselves ‘Is [name] working hard?’.

The third group of children were asked to pick from some well-known hard-working superhero types: Batman, Bob the Builder, Rapunzel and Dora the Explorer. The kids got to dress up as the character they picked and then were asked, “Is Batman working hard?”

Although all children spent more time on the iPad than they did on the important computer task, the children who were dressed up stuck to the task the longest.

“Children who were asked to reflect on the task as if they were another person were less likely to indulge in immediate gratification and more likely to work toward a relatively long-term goal,” the authors wrote in their study; The ‘Batman Effect’: Improving Perseverance in Young Children.

There are a number of possible reasons that the children in costumes had better focus. It might be that pretending to be another person allows them to separate themselves from the temptation. It  might also be that those in fancy dress identified with the powerful character traits of their chosen superhero and wanted to imitate them.

Whatever the reason is, it’s a good excuse to be Batman.

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