The Marshmallow Test

I recently heard about a study that seems to confirm the importance of self control.  Australian researchers offered a children a marshmallow, telling them they could eat it immediately or wait a few minutes.  If they waited, they’d get a second marshmallow. 

The researchers then left the room and observed the children’s behavior on camera.

As would be expected, some just ate the marshmallow.   Some tried to wait, but couldn’t resist long enough.    Some put the marshmallow aside and diverted their attention to other things until the researchers returned with a second marshmallow.

Years later the researchers followed up on how the kids in the experiment had done in life.  They found that those who were able to excercise self control and resist eating the marshmallow immediately had been more successful in school and had more stable, happy lives.

Unsurprising, but interesting to know this kind of research supports the fundamental truth that it is important to exercise some self control.

Since self control seems so rare in our society these days, and the absence of self-control is so harmful to our society, we can only wish there were more kids out there who would wait for the second marshmallow.

Love Wins

2 comments on “The Marshmallow Test

  1. Amy Martin says:

    My masters thesis was on resilience in individuals from adverse backgrounds and the ability to delay gratification was a huge factor. From personal experience, (as a parent, and a former-teacher) this skill, like many, seems to be naturally easier or more difficult depending on the child. However, every kid can learn to delay gratification and *needs* to learn this with the help of the adults around them. There is something vital about it to our ability to process and our long-term well-being.


  2. Bill says:

    I very much agree Amy.


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