How Long Can You Resist A Marshmallow?

By Meera Dolasia on August 20, 2012

CCSS NAS-6 Grades: 3-8 Word Search

How long can you resist a marshmallow? For a minute, maybe two - How about 20 minutes? Believe it or not, the answer to that simple question, could shape your entire future - At least that, is the conclusion reached by University of Stanford scientist Walter Mischel the brainchild behind the now legendary 'Stanford Marshmallow' test.

The unusual experiment was conducted by the psychologist between 1968-1970. Children between the ages of 4-6 were invited individually and seated at a table inside a room that had a single marshmallow (or even cookie or pretzel if that is what they preferred) on a plate. They were told that if they could resist the treat for 20 minutes, they would be rewarded with another. Those that that were unable to wait, simply had to ring a bell that lay in front of them before devouring it. They would however receive no additional treats. The scientist would then sneak out and watch the kid's behavior from a one-way mirror.

What they observed was that only about a third of the kids were able to wait out the 20 minutes and that the older the child was, the better his/her resistance power. However, what was even more interesting is that most, no matter how young, did wait it out at least for a little while. Very few, gobbled the marshmallow right away.

That of course, was just the beginning of the study that has been ongoing since. Many years later, the scientist followed up with the parents of the now-grown kids with a detailed questionnaire. What he found was that those that had been able to resist the marshmallow for the full 20 minutes, were thought to be more competent by their parents, than the others. Things got even more interesting a few years later, when he discovered that the marshmallow resisters all scored an average of 210 points higher on their Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores than the rest of the group. Not only that, they were also better at planning and, handling stress.

Recently, Tanya Schlam at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health along with some of her colleagues decided to contact the same group for a totally different purpose - To see whether the self-control had continued into adulthood and therefore helped them maintain a healthy weight. Sure enough, they found it was directly related to the minutes they were able to hold off eating the marshmallows. Who knew that scoffing down a marshmallow when you were just four could affect your entire life!

Resources: Telegraph.co.uk, nydailynews.com, slate.com

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627 Comments
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  • scigirlronni
    scigirlronniSaturday, April 23, 2016 at 3:09 pm
    That is so funny but I would wait until I get 55 marshmallows. :0 And I badly want to take the marshmallow test with my friend Eva.
    • OmpaThursday, March 3, 2016 at 10:59 am
      Marshmallows are my FAVORITE!!!!! They're actually my screensaver !!!💖😜💕💕💕💕💕
      • rileysha001
        rileysha001Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 8:08 am
        thats funny to me
        • mrupp
          mruppMonday, February 22, 2016 at 9:54 am
          I would maybe eat it. Depends, what's at risk?
          • crazy_chloe
            crazy_chloeFriday, February 19, 2016 at 8:25 am
            Funny
            • coolaj
              coolajThursday, February 4, 2016 at 9:02 am
              I would just walk away because i'm not that fond of them unless they are in a smore! :b
            • cg081Friday, January 15, 2016 at 3:07 pm
              depends if I'm hungry or not
              • 4smith2
                4smith2Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 10:30 am
                O would eat it. Cause i like marshmellows
                • rc99130
                  rc99130Saturday, November 28, 2015 at 1:33 pm
                  lol that was awesome I want too do that test
                  • Hyper_Playz Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 3:43 pm
                    that made my mouth water :()

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