How can marshmallows possibly relate to your or my future? If you’re unfamiliar with what has become a classic piece of research, the core experiment is brilliantly illustrated in a modern version recorded in the video. It was originally devised by Walter Mischel and colleagues in the 1960’s to test the self-control of four year old children, and their ability to delay gratification – or specifically delay eating the marshmallow put in front in them while they were left alone for up to 20 minutes, in order to receive the reward of another marshmallow. In other words, eat one now or wait and have two.
The children involved in this simple test of willpower have now been studied in several follow-ups, and it proved to be surprisingly predictive of future success – including better education achievement, higher self-esteem, ability to cope with stress and mental health – and the follow-up continues as they age. It’s one part of the puzzle that demonstrates why self-control is such a valuable strength.
Be remarkable, hang-in-there for two marshmallows,
Brilliant. Particularly the little girl who didn't even wait to hear the instructions before she was eating the marshmallow!
I wonder how I would have done at 4. Probably badly…
What a fascinating review of our internal struggles… all made clearly visible on the children's faces! My favourite bit is when the boy who waited stuffed both marshamallows in at once; what a reward!