All the kids were given 10 minutes to do a boring task but were also told of a “extremely attractive” iPad video game in a nearby room they could play instead.
The children were asked to approach the repetitive task – which researchers told them was “very important” – differently based on what group they were placed in.
In the first two groups, children were asked about how productive they were being.
In the third group, kids could pick a character to dress up as and were asked to think of themselves as that character when looking at how much work they were getting done.
According to researchers, kids who thought of themselves as characters like Batman or Dora the Explorer got the most work done.
Researchers think it is all about the art of distraction.
‘Taking a mental step back from one’s own situation could help children persevere in the face of distraction,’ the study read.
Basically, researchers say that allowing children to put on an alter ego might make it easier to “persevere” through short-term distractions.
‘Perseverance is necessary throughout our lives, from children struggling to sound out each letter on the page as they learn to read, to college students studying organic chemistry late into the night,’ the researchers wrote.
‘Whether due to the tedium of the task at hand or the pull of the many more immediate gratifications that abound in our environments, success often requires persistence through some ‘unpleasure.’ ‘
But even dressing your kid as Batman isn’t going to mean you can put on the kettle while they clean the house.
Overall, those studied spent 37 percent of the 10 minutes actually doing the repetitive task, while the other 63 percent was spent on the iPad, researchers found.
The six-year-olds also fared better than the four-year-olds in staying on task.