The Marshmallow Test





Introduction: The Marshmallow Test

About: I am a guy who lives in California. During my spare time, I like to see if somebody posts a decent instructable that I would like to try. I also love to play xbox 360.

The original "marshmallow test" was conducted by Stanford psychology professor Walter Mischel 40 years ago. The test was meant to measure which children could delay gratification. Follow up studies showed that children who could postpone eating a marshmallow at age 4 outpaced their peers in many areas when they were 18 years old: They scored 210 points higher in the SAT and had higher confidence, concentration, and reliability. This simple test proved to be twice as predictive of later SAT scores as IQ tests

The marshmallow test described here will hardly qualify as a valid scientific experiment. Passing the test won't indicate your kid is on the fast track to Harvard. That said, it is a fun activity to do with your kids, and an opportunity to impart a valuable lesson in patience.

Step 1: The Set-Up

Put your child up in a small room with a chair, a table, and one marshmallow.

1. Let him/her sit in the chair.
2. Tell them, "If you don't eat that marshmallow in 5 min. I will give you something to go with that marshmallow"(another marshmallow, chocolate, candy, etc.)
3. Once they get that message, leave the room.

That guy below this was really... TEMPTED!

Step 2: The Experiment

Wait 5 min.

Return and reward the child with an extra marshmallow if deserved. Allow them to now eat both marshmallows. Explain that you are proud of them for being patient. If they ate the marshmallow while you were gone, try to use the moment for teaching about delayed gratification.

If you want to laugh somemore keep rewarding them with more marshmallows the longer they wait.

Step 3: The Aftermath

Enjoy watching the video recording of the test with your whole family, and with the child when he or she gets older. The kids will enjoy seeing their reaction regardless of how the test goes.

Please ignore the last part, I don't know why i kept recording.



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    19 Discussions

    Instead of experimenting with them, just eat the marshmallows! GOSH

    1:37 Wait, what? Love the kids who eat it before the guys leaves. 2:40 That kid can't only be four.

    test would not have worked on my children as they don't like marshmallows & are well adjusted kids now studying law & sports science

    Abuse? Anyone calling this abuse is a freak. Consider the implications. Aged 4, you allow the kids to eat whatever they want, do whatever they want, and show no restraint. Aged 4, they can't do much damage, just a few smashed lamps and maybe put the dog down because he bit back when hit once too often... Aged 10, their poor impulse control gets them throw out of school for hitting people. You don't try to curtail this because that would be physical and mental torture! Aged 15, the son carries on eating whatever they want, doing whatever they want. Say he's after your daughter, raging hormones, and no self-control. You fine with that? Because incest isn't allowed, regardless. What if she's not into him, and he insists? Surely not letting him rape her is abuse of him, because that's what he wants, and you've always let him do as he wants. Yes, a straw man. But it happens. Just like you find parents still breast feeding on the child's demand at 5 years old! However, don't teach your kids self-control by telling them "God is always watching!" or they will end up as a TV preacher. And that's probably worse, as they will mess up a lot more people than just themselves.

    How could it not be? I'm sure the kid loved being locked in the room. I wonder if asked, if they would want to "play" the game. "How would you like to be placed in a room by yourself sweety. There is a bowl full of marshmellows yet you can't have one yet" . "How about you just give me one and I don't want to play your game" eh, just lock 'em in there anyway!

    Teaching children self-restraint is hardly psychological abuse. It's not like they don't get anything in the end. This will a good lesson for them to have learned when they become teenagers with (your) money.

    If you do it to your own kids, it's abuse. If you do it to other people's kids, it's psychology.

    psychological abuse ??? such a big word !! is it a crime to teach a bit of patience to a kid ? lock the candy somewhere else ? this is a bad idea, if i lock the candy, how can i know that my kid is old enough to not to steal candy ? it will be more fun to put 2 kids and 1 marshmallow in the room. or put a kid and a dog and tell the kid to not to give the marshmallow to the dog.

    "If you don't eat that marshmallow in 5 min. I will give you a reward." The wording is very important, and the above would skew the results. "Reward" is intangible, while "another marshmallow" is specific. And somehow I knew it was going to turn into some religious "proof" BS.

    1 reply

    I've heard of this study before, being able to delay gratification is a sign of "emotional intelligence" which might explain the outcomes of those who passed the test. I'm not sure how well I would have done, especially after he added the chocolate!

    Interesting, I had never heard of this before. I don't care for the video at the end, though. Creepy.

    Haha, I loved that. brilliant. I don't like the preachy guy at the end though...