The Marshmallow Experiment: Build the ability for self-control.

A study was carried out on children in 1960 and published in 1989 by W Mischel and his team. They experimented on hundreds of children within the age of 4 and 5 to see their level of delay gratification or how they can restrain themselves from quick reward. And Marshmellow was used for the experiment.


The Experiment.
They took each of the kid to a private room and placed a marshmallow at their front. Then the researcher offers the child a deal.

They told the children that the marshmallow belongs to them, and they will leave them alone for a couple of minutes, and come back. If they still have their marshmallow with them, they would add one, but if they can’t wait, there won’t be extra marshmallow. They left the children to decide.

The researchers left the room for 15 minutes for each of them. Some kids jumped up immediately after the researcher left to eat it. Others were looking at it for minutes and they could not beat the temptation and they ate. Only a few of the children waited for the researcher to come back and get the second marshmallow.

The Result.
As time moves, W Mischel and his team continue to track these children to see the result of people that show the quality of delay gratification and those that could not, and they found something interesting.

The children that waited for the second marshmallow were doing well in academics, as they had good grades, excellent skills, healthy, and have a better life than those that ate their first marshmallow. The study lasted for over 40 years, and the researchers found out that people with delay gratification did well in life in terms of success and health.

This study may sound funny and might be untrue to some people, but let’s take this instance.


If you decide to postpone the time you used to play the video game and invest it to study, you would get a better grade in school. Success is more of paying the price of commitment and discipline to get over possible distraction, and this is closely tied to delay gratification.

But to think more of this, my mama used to tell me not to eat anything from anywhere. I grew up to believe that I could die of food if I eat from people. So, if I were to be among the children, I will definitely not eat the marshmallow and would get the second. So, does this mean, I can practice delay gratification, or it is just self-control because of mama’s word? Another thing is, generally, do children build delay gratification or some people are just destined for success?

What makes self control?
Self-control is a habit and when it is been built in children, they would live all their lives with it. It is not a fixed habit. It is more of a thing to learn in our environment. Anyone could learn it and use it to improve their life.It is about knowing and believing in long time benefits instead of a short time cup of cake.

But one thing about all these studies is that it is just about one part of human life. Many factors determine success. However, the research shows that discipline, self-control, and believing in long time benefits have more to do with our success individually.

We can all build ourselves to have the qualities of delay gratification. It is by controlling what we do and how we do them. Focus on long time benefits over quick benefits and you would improve and have a better life.

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