Monday, March 1, 2010

The Marshmellow Test

Life is the sum of all your choices. ~Albert Camus

In the 1960’s, Walter Mischel conducted his very famous Marshmellow Test on children of various ages to take a look at delayed gratification, or, that is to say, self discipline.
I often think of the virtue, 'Good things come to those who wait'. Well, now there is an actual way to see if it not only proves true, but how we as adults can help gadge where our children are at.  In The Marshmellow Test, Mischel followed the kids throughout their lives and the results were astounding.
The children that could hold off eating ‘one marshmallow’ for ‘two’ seemed to do significantly better at delaying gratification that those that gobbled it immediately. Big deal? Yes, it is actually. Just check out the areas this kids excelled in over the ones that couldn't wait....
In areas like:
  • Relationships and marriage
  • Money and finances
  • Health and fitness
  • Positive outlook on life
The ‘gobblers’ seemed to be the opposite in his finding years later. I encourage you to take this test with your child over time. See if the results change. One thing the test didn't show is how parental influence can help a child with delayed gratification....
I pose the question, "Can we as parents and teachers help to shape the results of this test? My guess is we can. We can because I know that loving our children also means telling them "No".
Funny isn't it? The word, "No" with a whole lot of love behind it is sweeter than any marshmallow...and a bit of sweetness makes anything easier to swallow.
Click here to see more results of the Marshmellow Test.


VKT said...


I need some lessons on delayed gratification when it comes to food...sigh. I need to lose some weight. Very interesting post!

Jinksy said...

I saw an interesting TV series which included this very exeriment. Maybe it should be a standard procedure test, in the hope of correcting future negative developments...

Barbra The Bloggess said...

Hi Jinksy,
This is a good point.
I actually saw a lot of parents posting their results of their own child's Marshmallow Test on You Tube. It looked like they were testing them at home.
Maybe it's not in out nature to want to 'wait' at all. But perhaps it is a characteristic that can be 'learned'-I haven't given those marshmallow munchers,yet, lol.
We live in a society now of fast food, fast living and ultra fast technology....
I believe even a child can learn that good things can come to those who wait-just like love doesn't always come in a hurry; but it always comes in time.