A particular psychological experiment developed in the 1960s involving children and marshmallows has become quite popular lately. It was featured in a non-broadcast podcast episode of RadioLab*, and it was recently the subject of a New Yorker article. The experiment itself is rather simple. A child is brought into a room by a researcher, given a marshmallow, and told that he or she is welcome to eat their marshmallow right away but if he or she does not eat the marshmallow until the researcher gets back then the researcher will give the child a second marshmallow. Pure profit! And it turns out that the results of the experiment have lasting ramifications for the subjects.
Once Mischel began analyzing the results, he noticed that low delayers, the children who rang the bell quickly, seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home. They got lower S.A.T. scores. They struggled in stressful situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships. The child who could wait fifteen minutes had an S.A.T. score that was, on average, two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds.
The researchers followed the original test subjects into their 30s and found that the children who had been unable to resist eating their initial marshmallow were often less financially successful, had more health problems, and a higher incidence of drug use. Self-control as a skill developed early on can affect the pattern of a child’s entire life! Very interesting!
But what the podcasts and articles do not tell you is HOW CUTE THIS TEST IS!
Aw! Uncovering the deep-seated behavioral triggers behind impulse control and examining how those tendencies continue to influence us in adult life is DARLING! (Via most blogs about stuff today.)
*Are you guys listening to RadioLab? Because if you’re not listening to RadioLab, you should really be listening to RadioLab. It’s the RadioBest. It’s so interesting and enjoyable. Download it to your Zune today!