Marshmallow Experiment

Do you remember the Marshmallow Experiment? First performed by Walter Mischel (Stanford) as part of the psychological studies.

During his, Mischel tested hundreds of children in their age 3 to 5. The experiment was the following:

  1. Bring each child a marshmallow on the table in a private room
  2. The researcher offered a deal to the child, that after the conversation he will leave the room, and if the child did not eat the marshmallow while he is away, he will bring another marshmallow. However if the child decided to eat the first marshmallow, the researcher did not bring another one
  3. The children were 15 minutes alone in the private room

The reactions were different, some of the children ate the sweetness as soon as the researcher leaved the room. Some of the children tried to insist but the temptation was bigger. Some of the children's marshmallow survived the 15 minutes and get bigger reward.

Later Effect of Delayed Gratification

The interesting part of the experiment come several years (40) later, when these children grown up.

The group who waited patiently for the second marshmallow succeed in whatever capacity they were measured against the group who ate the marshmallow within the 15 minutes. In general, they had lower levels of substance abuse, lower likelihood of obesity, better responses to stress and better social skills.

This short story tells that some of the children have stronger self-discipline, what was learned from their parents. This basic behavior cannot be taught directly with words, the children just learn it by observation. Another important part of delayed gratification is, that you can train yourself, to behave accordingly. Remember the twice of the size reward comes with relatively small effort, but you have to wait. In real life that means, you put effort in things in your work, or into your relations, and get no instant result, but after time, when you did not expect the result will shock you, and it will have a huge impact.

Be patient.