Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Marshmallow Test


Dr. Walter Mischel's famous "Marshmallow Test" researched children and self-control back in the 1960's and 1970's. The design of the experiment involved leaving a succession of 4-year-olds in a room with a bell and a marshmallow. Each child was given a set of simple instructions. If they rang the bell, Mischel would come back and they could immediately eat the marshmallow. If, however, they didn't ring the bell and waited for him to come back on his own, he would bring them another marshmallow - thus giving them two to eat.

What Mischel found over years of following test subjects was that children who rang the bell early - in order to eat the one marshmallow - had more behavioral and academic problems growing up, got lower SAT scores and struggled in stressful situations and had limited friendships as adults. In essence, their lack of self-control had life long effects.

The video below simulates Mischel's "Marshmallow Test". I'd totally do what one of these cuties does - I'd touch it and smell it. Even glide it across my lips. But I could wait to eat the two marshmallows. How do you think you'd do?








Patterson, C., & Mischel, W. (1976). Effects of temptation-inhibiting and task-facilitating plans on self-control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33 (2), 209-217 DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.33.2.209




16 comments:

OHN said...

At 4? I probably would have eaten it while he was giving me the directions :)

Xmichra said...

lol @OHN... me too!

I can't stand marshmallows, so I'd eat it right away to avoid having to eat two. lol...

Ms.L said...

What happens to the kids who refuse to eat the marshmellow?
I hate marshmellows! But mind you,when I was 4,I'd be too
shy to say any such thing,so I'd most likely eat it right away,to
avoid being further tortured,just like Xmichra!

Dr. Deb said...

I think these children were known to like marshmallows...but I will try to get the original data to know for sure.

Kahless said...

I would eat the one.

mrwriteon said...

I think that if I understood another marshmallow was to come my way if I played the game by the rules I'd be able to hold off.

Rose said...

That was so funny! That one little guy waited but he cracked me up. He looked as if he was in agony. I could have waited even at 4 years old.

Lisa Marie said...

This is a great video! I am going to recommend this to the teachers on my team to use in their plans. We have a class that 6th graders take to learn about bullying, impulse control, frienships, etc. and temptation would be perfect!!!! Thank you for sharing!

s+co said...

Oh my goodness, that was adorable.

sandy,phd said...

I wouldn't eat it. Not a huge marshmallow fan. But put a foil wrapped Dove chocolate on the plate? I'd probably inhale it before the research assistant left the room.

On another note, what a fun experiment to run. There must have a lot of laughter behind that mirror.

jumpinginpuddles said...

bugger it id not bother with the bell id eat the damn thing. And i dont think ive got lower intelligence because of it LOL

Deb said...

LOL @Xmichra's comment! I was going to say the same exact thing! Now, given it was sushi - or something that I just could NOT resist------it would be GONE GONE GONE! I'm not sure if I would have liked sushi at that age, but you get what I'm saying. This was such a fun video to watch!

Sid said...

I would have been too scared to eat it.

Tom Ryan said...

This is so funny. Certainly beats the 'Strange Situation' experiment for laughs anyway. Thanks for sharing this.

Kit said...

I wonder what became of the kids who pinched little pieces off the bottom and then put the seemingly intact marshmallow back on the plate?
Did they grow up to be politicians?

Anonymous said...

if i was the one i would eat it without thinking again