The Marshmallow Test

>> Tuesday, September 22, 2009

There's a relevant article on the New Yorker about this marshmallow test. About kids who have self-control are more likely to be successful in life. I guess that explains why I don't seem to have much success, I'm too into instant gratification.

In the video, kids are given a single marshmallow and are told to wait while the examiner goes out of the room, the kids are told that if they hold off on eating the marshmallow they will get an additional marshmallow when the person returns. Meanwhile, they are secretly taped. You can see the kids eyeing the marshmallow and having inner turmoil, they are struggling to not eat the treat in front of them even though they wanted to. It's cute in a sense, but then it's also very cruel. The tester leaves the room for a prolong period, there's no explanation on why the waiting was necessary. The whole experiment is pretty much just toying with the children and adding unnecessary stress.

Does the test really teaches anyone anything? I submit that there's a very little difference between eating one marshmallow or two. The taste is the same and I doubt that the kids would save the other one for later, so it wouldn't matter. I hope they are well compensated to participate in this experiment and being exploited with a video. We all know how these things can come back to haunt us when we grow old.

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