The Marshmallow Experiment, Revisited


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Does anybody else remember learning about The Marshmallow Experiment when they were younger? The original was conducted at Stanford University in 1972, and tested deferred gratification in children. Over 600 children were part of the original experiment. Only a small amount of children ate the marshmallow immediately after they were left alone, but only one third of the children waited long enough to receive the second marshmallow.

The Stanford experiment also found that children who waited for the second marshmallow tended to have more success in the long term, and they usually had higher SAT scores than the children who did not wait for the second marshmallow.


I remember thinking this video was adorable yet hilarious.

Today, however, I read an article about a new study by researchers at University of Rochester. This study tested whether putting children in reliable or unreliable situations would change the result of the Marshmallow Experiment. 


They found that children in the reliable environment "waited on average four times longer than children in the unreliable environment (12 minutes as opposed to 3) and twice as long as children in the original test, who waited an average of about 6 minutes."

While the original Stanford study shows that will-power paves the way for long term success for children, this new study shows students have more will-power when they are in an environment they trust.

2 Comments

I must have fallen off the face of the earth because I never saw this experiment!! First of all I thought it was adorable and couldnt stop smiling.

While I was watching the first youtube link, I noticed that some kids were taking little pinches off the marshmellows, but no one actually ate it excpet the young blonde. In my opinion, she seemed to have been the youngest of the group.

Watching hte second video, I noticed that the girl who was waiting patiently didnt eat the marshemellow, seemed very mellow (no pun intended). While the other boy who did eat the marshmellow seemed a lot more hyper and active.

I think for the next study they should get twins or kids with very simmilar behaivioral characterists and see how they perform with the test. Also, I think that kids have a major trust issue with adults. Until they can trust you and rely on you, they might not do anything they are told.
CNN : http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57533516/new-marshmallow-test-suggests-trust-matters/

This topic is so interesting to me. I never thought about making an experiment out of children's will power. I think children in comfortable situations will generally have more will power. Just as if we teenagers are at a party with people we know it is easier to say no. If we are with people we are uncomfortable with we don't feel as comfortable with saying no because we don't want to look uncool. However, I know for babies their motive isn't if they are cool. It is more about rebelling or the adrenaline rush of having the power to do what they want without being told what to do for those few minutes they may be left alone with a marshmallow in the room.
This article is about self control http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/05/18/090518fa_fact_lehrer
Do you think a younger child's will power correlates with their will power as a teen?

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