The Marshmallow Experiment

16 Apr

 

In the 1960s and 70s Walter Mischel of Stanford did a set of simple but fascinating experiments with marshmallows and children 4 – 6 years old. Alone in a room each child was presented with a marshmallow and informed if they didn’t eat it while the adult was out of the room they would get another. About one third managed not to eat it. There are a number of amusing videos of these children trying not to eat the marshmallow on UTube.

 

When followed up 10 and more years later it turned out that the children who could delay gratification had better life outcomes measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index and other measures of life outcome.

 

Recent studies with brain imaging show that the children who cannot delay have poorer levels of frontal executive functioning when they are in the experiment. The inference is that stress, particularly poverty, has a negative effect on brain development at a very early age (4 – 6).

Food for thought.

 

There are a couple of ways that people can subscribe to this blog. Click the “+ Follow” link on the bottom right section of the site and enter your email address. This is a very easy way to receive the newest post as an email. The other way is via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed. The RSS Feed link is located on the right sidebar of the site, directly above the Categories section. Click on “RSS – Posts” to receive your posts in their favorite RSS reader. The RSS reader that many prefer is Google Reader (http://reader.google.com). It is free, well organized, and easy to use.

 

Advertisements

One Response to “The Marshmallow Experiment”

  1. David Bywater April 16, 2014 at 7:24 am #

    Or is it people with poor executive functioning cannot delay gratification?
    We live this every day.
    Good post.
    david

    David Bywater
    Iowa City, IA
    319-337-9623, ext 1161

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: