The marshmallow test

marshmallowI thought this study was pretty cool.  It was on the news the other night. The instructor told the kids they could have a marshmallow one way or the other but if they could wait until he got back, they would get two.  He would only be gone for 15 minutes, he had to show their parents something. Then he and the parents went into another room to watch them on a closed circuit TV.

Some of the kids wanted both marshmallows so they waited.  Other kids just wanted it right now and ate it right away. Some of the kids just sat and played with it and some may as well have eaten it but “technically” they didn’t.

This study suggests that the kids who could wait did better in life. It sounds kind of like a self control issue and that those who could wait ultimately did better.

That really makes a lot of sense to me because self control is very important in life.  On the other hand, in a lot of business’s, isn’t it the early bird who gets the worm?  You can’t always just sit around and wait for things to happen.  You have to get out there in the middle of it.

I would love to try this with the grandchildren.  I “think” I know what each of them would do but then again, kids make a liar out of you at every turn in a road.

What do you think?  Try it out and see what happens.

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18 Responses to The marshmallow test

  1. That is definitely an interesting study… However, you say that sometimes the early bird catches the worm – but that wasn’t the case in this study, right? I mean here, the kids were told they’d get more if they waited, so it is completely a self-control and a long-term planning thing.
    Those that were impulsive and weren’t willing to wait didn’t get what they knew they could get if they waited. It really does make sense that the children who waited, who planned ahead a bit, were the ones that ultimately did better. Ah, psychology is fascinating, is it not?

  2. nikki says:

    This study does make sense. I’m pretty sure Bailey would wait so he would have 2. I’m anxious to see what he says!!
    I loved the kid who did everything to that marshmallow but eat it!! Very interesting and yummy study!!

  3. K. Trainor says:

    Makes sense to me. Those with goals always outshine those without.

  4. nikki says:

    I just noticed those marshmallows are pink and white!!! Where can I find them!!??? 😉

  5. Joy says:

    I’m not really sure what my boys would have done. I think they both would have played with it but they were both in sports so I can see them bounding them or “shooting” baskets with them but really, I think they both would have wanted 2 and would have waited.

    Nikki, my thought was Bailey would wait it out too. I’ve seen pink marshmallows but never pink and white. I just found this photo where I get all my other ones. You are so funny. I know at holidays they make them in different colors.

  6. With our kiddo, she fluctuates between delayed gratification and not…. sometimes, that few dollars of allowance can’t be spent fast enough. She gets it once a week. Other times, she saves for something special, knowing that the more she waits, the bigger the booty.

    I do think that giving to a child as soon as they ask for something, anything that isn’t for their survival needs, starts a pattern at times of not being able to wait to be satisfied; being able to delay gratification can be very beneficial later in life for many things.

    Does that make sense????

  7. SKL says:

    This is cool.

    “Delayed gratification” has always been my personal motto. It has worked for me and I tried with varied success to convince my younger siblings to adopt it. Mostly I got laughed at a lot. “Why would we want to be like you, when we can have things now that you are still denying yourself? Who are you trying to be, Mother Teresa?” (Usually followed within months by “can I borrow some money to pay my bills?”)

    I have to say my kids are pretty good about this. When my eldest was about 1.5, someone gave her a candy during dinner. I told her to put it aside and not eat it until after her meal was finished. To my surprise, she put the candy back down next to her plate, finished her dinner, and then ate the candy. My younger girl finds it a bit harder to resist temptation, but she’s still pretty good for her age. I am pretty consistent about enforcing “wait,” “take turns,” “first . . . and then you can . . . .” Now, other people seem afraid to deprive my kids of anything for even an instant, so I have to force them to back off. The girls have learned that if they wait a reasonable time, they will usually get what they want – but how can kids learn this if we always resort to the recommended ploys of substitution, distraction, redirection, etc.? Why is the word “wait” so taboo nowadays?

    I wish young people would understand how much nicer it is to have just a small space that is ALL MINE with no mortgage to worry about, a nest egg that will feed us for years if need be, and truly no worries about what “the economy” is going to do to me (provided my savings and 401K are protected). And on top of that, the knowledge that I was able to help others in need. Do I regret the fact that I rarely ate at restaurants for most of my life, drove an older car, rarely bought new clothes or shoes, shopped at second-hand shops for books, didn’t fill my house with trinkets I don’t need, etc.? No, not one bit.

  8. mssc54 says:

    Interesting to see this subject today.

    I received a phone call today from a friend of ours.

    She had just returned home from work and found her husband yelling and screaming at her 16yr old son in the front yard. Taunting him to hit him using the “f” word and such.

    She said she figured the best thing was for her to load up her two kids and their 4yr old son and too just leave.

    The husband/stepfather yanked the door open and grabbed their 4yr old son. She was yelling at him that he wasn’t going to take him (this time). He turned to walk away and she hit the hubby in the back of the neck.

    He called the law and had HER arrested for domestic violance.

    Do you think this is the first time this has happened?

    Of course not. They’ve been seperated twice in the last three years.

    She just keeps going back.

    Self control you say?

  9. kweenmama says:

    I personally know quite a few teens right now that have a very hard time with delayed gratification. The sad thing is that they are some of the most demanding teens I know as well.

  10. nikki says:

    So true Kweenmama so true!

  11. javajunkee says:

    ok not only would I not have waited but I probably would have been telling the other kids to look out the window while I snuck theirs…it’s no wonder I’m such a wreck!

  12. Joy says:

    javajunkee, you are so brutally honest that you have me cracking up!!! Just remind me not to sit next to you when I’m eating something I love!!

  13. nikki says:

    Bailey said he’d wait the 15 minutes and get two!!

  14. Joy says:

    I knew he would. He’s such a chip off the old block!

  15. javajunkee says:

    LOL Now why would “I” remind you not to sit next to me??? Especially if you are packing chocolate…. or coffee..or chips…ok basically any food item.

  16. Doraz says:

    I think it all depends on the mood that you are in when something like this is happening. If I am out eating with someone and my friends are eating fries and I feel like one….I reach over and take it! If I am feeling FAT and know I should not eat that fry, I will resist. Usually, the first applies! Cute study, Joy!

  17. Sue says:

    After seeing the way Trinity held on to her giftcard she received for Christmas, I’d say she’d be able to wait. Christopher on the other hand would depend on his mood. He can wait, but he’ll ask every 5 minutes until it’s time!

  18. SanityFound says:

    Read about this study a while ago and was going to do it for the guys that worked for me – they kinda liked these kind of tests. This one was for decision making because apparantly it had direct correlation to how a person, even an adult, handled a problem or how they made decisions.

    Risk takers ate quickly – those that played were the creatives and the ones who wanted to look at something from all angels and the ones that waited were the ones that sit back and absorb all the details and facts before even considering taking action.

    Never got to do the test on them because I left the company but it was good reading and learning about it 🙂

    I say go for it – valuable lessons for both the adults and the kids 🙂

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