The Marshmallow Test: FAIL

by | Nov 3, 2020 | 0 comments

We’re failing The Marshmallow Test. But that’s cool. We’re not at our best.

For those of you who don’t know about The Marshmallow Test, it was an experiment developed in the 1960s to observe the ability of kids to demonstrate delayed gratification. 

You know what that is, right?

“I want the thing!” (SELF CONTROL SWOOPS IN) “Fine. I’ll wait for the thing.” 

And the “thing” those kids wanted was a marshmallow, which they were given at the outset of the test.


They were told by the test conductor, “Look kid, I’m gonna leave you in this room alone with your marshmallow, and if you can hold off on mouth-murdering that sweet, squishy confection until I return, I’ll give you TWO marshmallows…kid.”

The camera was placed in record mode, then the mean, mean adult cruelly sashayed out of the
room as each little sugar luster torturously grappled with his/her fate. 

The results?

About 2/3 of the kids gave in to temptation, the other 1/3 were able to double their prize by gutting out those moments like tiny Navy SEALS. In fact, some of the victorious kids may have even become SEALS because what researchers found when they followed up with the willpower rangers years later was that they were better educated, better employed, better paid, and just, plain better than their marshmallow malfeasant friends. (In other words, annoying then/annoying now. But that’s from the perspective of  someone who would TOTALLY have eaten the marshmallow, then stowed away under the test table and eaten the next kid’s marshmallow too.)

Anyway, the test shed light on something interesting: when you self-regulate, life smiles on you…forever. The rest of us are screwed. SCREWED!

Okay, not so fast.

There were a couple of follow up tests done with kids from more diverse backgrounds (because the original test group consisted of the children of Stanford University staffers, all of whom were in a high socioeconomic bracket.) The subsequent tests, which used a more varied population of kids, showed two things:

1.) Kids from lower socioeconomic levels often grab what they can, when they can, because they don’t know when they’ll get another chance. (AKA, they inhaled that damn marshmallow.)
2.) When kids worked together (other tests assembled kids into groups) they were able to ride that marshmallow wave like Jeff Spicolli in his most radical dreams.

So, what does all this have to do with us?

Check out episode 68 of Fix Your Chit, which drops Friday, October 2 at 7 am CST, and we’ll tell you. Plus you’ll learn a new word, whānau, and I’ll read a super sweary text I sent to my friend Katie about a co-worker I was hating on. It’ll be a blast. No need to delay gratification on this one. Until then!


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