Revisiting the Marshmallow Test


Josie Garner

When kids “pass” the marshmallow test, are they simply better at self-control or is something else going on? A new UC San Diego study revisits the classic psychology experiment and reports that part of what may be at work is that children care more deeply than previously known what authority figures think of them.

In the marshmallow test, young children are given one marshmallow and told they can eat it right away or, if they wait a while, while nobody is watching, they can have two marshmallows instead. The half-century-old test is quite well-known. It’s entered everyday speech, and you may have chuckled at an online video or two in which children struggle adorably on hidden camera with the temptation of an immediate treat…

But the real reason the test is famous (and infamous) is because researchers have shown that the ability to wait – to delay gratification in order to get a bigger reward later – is associated with a range of positive life outcomes far down the line, including better stress tolerance and higher SAT scores…”Our new research suggests that in addition to measuring self-control, the task may also be measuring another important skill: awareness of what other people value.”

Interesting read. Understanding children and their changing values is useful stuff.

I guess.

2 thoughts on “Revisiting the Marshmallow Test

  1. Take the money and run says:

    “Behavioral Measures of Impulsivity and the Law” ( National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb 2012) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3279729/#R74

    “Two men were thwarted in their attempt to rob a bank yesterday when a teller rejected their holdup note — because it was written on the deposit slip of a different bank.” https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1993-10-30-1993303041-story.html

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