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The first “marshmallow test” was conducted by Stanford psychology professor Walter Michel in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The test is designed to measure how children might hold back their desires. Subsequent studies showed that children who could put off marshmallow and not eat it at the age of 4 years were ahead of their peers in many areas when they reached 18 years: they passed all 210 points higher, passed SAT, and had higher confidence, concentration and reliability. This simple test turned out to be a predictor of subsequent SAT scores, as well as IQ tests. .

The Marshmallow test, which is described here, is unlikely to qualify for the title of a valid scientific experiment. Passing the test will not show that your baby is on the shortest route to Harvard. However, this is a pretty fun activity for your children, as well as the opportunity to receive a valuable lesson in patience.

Stanford Marshmallow Experiments or Marshmallow Tests - A series of experiments aimed at studying deferred remuneration in children aged 4 to 6 years.

Stanford Marshmallow Experiments or Marshmallow Tests - A series of experiments aimed at the study of deferred compensation in children.
The author of the experiment: American psychologist Walter Michel, specialist in social psychology and personality psychology.
The participants: preschool children.

Walter Michel is an American psychologist,
Specialist in the field of social psychology and personality psychology.

Then the experimenter reported that he needed to go away, and promised the child that if he did not eat the sweets before he returned, he would receive another portion. After that, the experimenter left the room, leaving the child alone with an irresistible desire to enjoy the treat. Just imagine how hard it is for a child to cope with temptation!
The situation was complicated by the fact that there were no toys in the room that could be distracted in the process of waiting. Only a chair, a table and marshmallows.
As a result, some children ate a treat immediately, while others, after 15 minutes, received the promised reward.

A person who is able to control himself is able to control his future!

About 600 children took part in marshmallow tests. For several decades, a group of scientists led by Walter Michel followed their successes and failures. It turned out that children who showed willpower in kindergarten were more successful than those who immediately ate marshmallows. They not only studied well at school and university, but among them was a low percentage of those suffering from obesity, alcoholism, drug addiction and depression.
It should also be noted that the results of the marshmallow test increase the chances of future success, but do not guarantee it.
Self-control is an acquired ability, not innate.

What helped kindergarteners to tame their momentary desires?

1. Switching attention.
In order to pass the time, the children sang songs, invented rhymes, made faces, poked their nose, drummed their fingers on the table, pretending to play the piano. Some closed their eyes and tried to sleep.

2. Physical removal.
To weaken the temptation, kindergarteners sought to remove the object of desire from sight. They turned away or pushed a plate of marshmallows to the edge of the table.
Additional experiments also demonstrated the significance of the removal. If a researcher put a reward on a tray in front of a child, then he on average waited less than a minute. Those same children waited 10 minutes longer if the sweetness was hidden by a napkin.

3. Change the idea of ​​the object.
The subjects waited longer if the experimenter asked them to think of marshmallows as something inedible (a piece of cotton wool, a cloud, fluff) or edible, but less desirable.

How to develop willpower in children?

1. Encourage the independence of the child. Excessive parental control and hyperprotection hamper the development of willpower.

2. Trust is the key to successful upbringing. If the parent does not fulfill his promises, the child will not wait for the second marshmallows, realizing that he will be deceived.

3. Teach your child to resist the temptation.
In addition to the marshmallow tests, Michelle conducted an interesting experiment called “Mr. Clown Box”. In the game room was placed a clown, which was a wooden box with flickering lights. In his hands were compartments with spinning toys and goodies, and in his head was a speaker through which the experimenter tried to distract the subject.

The scientist’s assistant brought the child into the room and introduced the existing toys. Later, she reported that she needed to go away, and asked to complete a boring task. For example, the child was asked to insert pins into a special typesetting field.
If the child worked without a break, then he was allowed to play with the clown and interesting toys. Otherwise, broken dolls were waiting for him.
The assistant also warned that if the clown asks to play with him, then you need to answer: "I cant. I work". As soon as the girl left the room, the clown began to sparkle with lights and try to speak with the subject.
The child, who knew how to react to the words of the clown, was distracted for 5 seconds and managed to stick 138 pins. The one who did not have such an action plan was interrupted for 24 seconds and stuck about 97 pins.

How can marshmallow test results affect an adult’s life?

Self-control mechanisms help regulate negative character traits, fight bad habits, and endure stress more easily.
In The Development of Willpower, Walter Michel gives an example of an impulsive patient. The man scandalized and threw food at his wife, if she read the newspaper instead of listening carefully. Following Michel’s recommendations, the husband took control of destructive emotions, conducting a countdown to himself (switching attention). Then he used constructive models of behavior. For example, he asked me to give him a page with business news.
To a woman who parted with her beloved, the scientist offered not to plunge into the abyss of negative experiences, but to distance oneself and look at them from a different angle (changing the idea of ​​an object).
Those who wish to quit smoking and part with extra pounds will also benefit from the conclusions of the marshmallow test.

Do you always have to wait?

The main task is to understand when you need to wait for the second marshmallows, and when it is better to enjoy one. Too long deferral of rewards is just as deplorable as indulging every impulsive desire. But if we do not learn to wait, then we simply will not have a choice.

A full description of the marshmallows test can be found in Walter Michel’s book, The Development of Willpower. Lessons from the author of the famous marshmallow test ”(translated from English by V. Kuzin, 2015).