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10th Jan 2015

A lesson in self-control – the marshmallow test

One now or more later?

If a mouth-watering marshmallow, like one of these (pictured) by Irish confectionery gourmet Delish Melish, was placed in front of you, what would you do? Eat it instantly, or save it, with the promise of even more sugary satisfaction later in the day?

This same question was posed to a group of four-and five-year-olds in the ’60’s, as part of a psychology study at Stanford University. The children were presented with a marshmallow and offered a deal – they could eat it now, or wait for up to 20 minutes, when they would be awarded two. Professor Walter Mischel studied their response at the time, then followed the cohort through educational and professional milestones. Those who exerted self-control, by delaying gratification, were more likely to do better at school, achieve more personal milestones and had better coping skills when it came to stress.

And the tots that gobbled the treat? Good news, many of them mastered the technique later in life. Phew.

Why not try it with your gang?

The Marshmallow Test – mastering self-control, €12.50.