In at least one serious replication attempt, scientists failed to find the same results. Still, there is general agreement that self-discipline, persistence, grit — call it what you like — is a good predictor of success in many areas of life.
“Dr. Mischel was one of the central pillars of the entire personality field for the last 50 years,” Dr. Roberts said.
Walter Mischel was born on Feb. 22, 1930, in Vienna, the second of two sons of Salomon Mischel, a businessman, and Lola Lea (Schreck) Mischel, who ran the household. The family fled the Nazis in 1938 and, after stops in London and Los Angeles, settled in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn in 1940.
After graduating from New Utrecht High School as valedictorian, Walter completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology at New York University and, in 1956, a Ph.D. from Ohio State University.
He joined the Harvard faculty in 1962, at a time of growing political and intellectual dissent, soon to be inflamed in the psychology department by Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (a.k.a. Baba Ram Dass), avatars of the era of turning on, tuning in and dropping out.
“The place kept getting crazier, it was impossible to work, and the qualities that had made it appealing seemed to be vanishing, so when an invitation came from Stanford to visit for an interview, I jumped at the chance,” Dr. Mischel wrote in an autobiographical essay, published for the American Psychological Association in 2007.
At Harvard he met and married Harriet Nerlove. The marriage ended in divorce. In addition to Ms. Eisner, he is survived by two other daughters, Judith and Rebecca Mischel; six grandchildren; and his partner, Michele Myers.