Marshmallow experiment

The Marshmallow Experiment team wanted to find a relationship between the ability to delay gratification and overall levels of happiness. Do you want to know what he observed?

latest update: March 5, 2023

Let’s go back in time. Let’s go back to childhood. Imagine sitting in front of a plate filled with your favorite candy. How long do you think it will take before you start eating it? We all see childhood from the perspective of infancy and we also see childhood from the perspective of adults, and we know that at this stage we are not characterized by patience or resistance to gratifying desires that are somehow put before us.

But let’s be honest…impatience isn’t just a child problem. Adults often choose to gain immediate gratification, even if the short- to medium-term consequences harm our long-term interests.. Hungry and the refrigerator is empty? It can become too tempting to ask to take food home, even knowing it’s not the best for our health (it would be great if we just went for a walk) or our finances.

That favorite T-shirt in the window? No problem, I’ll be home within 24 hours and ready for release on Saturday. You have to study, your friend asked you out. Giving up a cold beer in the summer is not an option.

When faced with these types of decisions, the prefrontal lobes are activated. Our desires, fueled by the limbic system, work against the idea defended by the neocortex that what tempts us is not actually what is best for us. We talk about our reward systems, about the importance of the different reinforcers or punishments we anticipate, in the intense dialectics that occur almost constantly in our inner worlds.

Delayed gratification is associated with self-control and greater self-confidence.

What is the marshmallow experiment?

Stanford University psychologist Walter Mischel studied the importance of this internal negotiation in childhood years ago. His team hopes to discover the value of the ability to resist the temptation of immediate reinforcement in favor of greater long-term reinforcement as an indicator.

The subjects of Mitchell’s study were boys and girls aged three to five.He sat them down in front of a plate with a Marshmallow (Also known as marshmallows or sugar clouds). Later they were told that if they did not eat 15 minutes and they will get extra.

Obtained results

The study aimed to examine the association between impulse control in childhood and predictors of certain characteristics later in life. So, a few years later, the children in the study were called again.turn out Children who decided to wait before eating Marshmallow They have better academic performance, better self-esteem and confidence, Compared to the children who ate that day Marshmallow from the plate.

A few years later, the children, now grown up, were called again. What did they observe? That Those who successfully overcome temptation are less likely to be overweight, They are physically healthier, more capable in social relationships, and obtain higher-skilled jobs.


Professor Taylor Watts expressed doubts about the experimental results. Marshmallow, because he believed the sample was not representative. The study was based on a sample of just under 90 children who had very similar characteristics and grew up in similar backgrounds.

so, Replied Be careful when researching, especially when taking samples. His team brings together more than 900 children from a variety of cultures, races and socioeconomic levels.

The research conclusion is Economic variables were significantly related to children’s ability to delay gratification. Children from wealthier families showed greater self-control and performed better when they were collectively assessed a second time.

girl in front of sponge
Taylor Watts replicated Mischel’s research and found that economic variables also affected how long children delayed gratification.

need immediate gratification

Today’s society seems designed to satisfy immediate, it is not easy at all to practice enduring setbacks and being able to wait. In fact, in some cases, the decision to wait is considered somewhat foolish. Why wait when we can have unlimited access to the content we want, anytime, anywhere? If you can do it now, why wait?

Overall, we can say that the results of this study are questionable. What we cannot ignore, however, is that systematically choosing immediate options prevents us from facing situations that are conducive to training our tolerance for frustration. Additionally, immediacy can devalue certain reinforcers while increasing the discomfort we may feel after receiving them.

“Without delayed gratification, goals cannot be achieved and goals cannot be achieved.”

-Sunday Adelaja-

you might be interested…

All cited sources undergo in-depth review by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, validity and effectiveness. The bibliographic references in this article are believed to be reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Benbenutty H., Karabenick SA (2004). Intrinsic links between academic delayed gratification, future time perspective, and self-regulated learning. educational psychology review,p. 16, 35-57.
  • Watts, T. (2018). The marshmallow test revisited: A conceptual replication investigating the link between early delayed gratification and later outcomes. Journal Sage.
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