The Marshmallow Test


Back in the 1960s a study at Stanford University was completed with preschoolers. This study is now referred to as the “Marshmallow Test.” They presented the preschool children with two choices:

ONE marshmallow they could eat immediately OR
TWO marshmallows if they waited alone for 20 minutes

Years after this study the research team followed up with each child in the experiment and found that the children who waited for the second marshmallow generally did better in life. “For example, studies showed that a child’s ability to delay eating the first treat predicted higher SAT scores and a lower body mass index (BMI) 30 years after the initial Marshmallow Test. Researchers discovered that parents of “high delayers” even reported that they were more competent than “instant gratifiers” – without knowing whether their child had gobbled the first marshmallow.”

The reason I’m writing about this is because I recently read this tweet by Leon Bambrick:marshmallowCould this actually be true?

If this is true and you have kids, shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to teach them how to delay gratification? The ability to delay gratification may help them enormously throughout their lives as the Stanford study seemed to prove. This one skill may actually keep your children from being exploited as adults by those who can delay gratification.

I’m not sure if I would pass the marshmallow test when I was in preschool. I would like to think that I would, but I’m not certain I had this ability. I believe I learned the ability to delay gratification later in life and I’m extremely thankful for this skill set.

Without the ability to delay gratification you’ll never be able to allow compound interest to work its magic in your life. And this means you’ll never be able to accumulate any significant wealth. To use compound interest to your advantage, you’ve got to be able to delay gratification over and over again.

First, you’ve got to save some of your income instead of spending every dollar you make. Then you’ve got to invest this savings into income producing assets. Next, when the asset pays you income, you have to have the ability to reinvest this income into new income producing assets. The entire process is built around the ability to continuously delay gratification…. for years.

You’ve got to able to sit there and watch the marshmallows pile up on the table in front of you for a long, long time without taking a bite.

marshmallowpileWe have two similar skills to work on:

1. The ability to delay gratification – not eat the marshmallow, not buy the shiny new car, not spend all of our income, etc.
2. The ability to do things we don’t want to do – exercise, work, brush/floss our teeth, go to the doctor, etc.

The more we improve these two skills, the better our lives will be in just about every area. We’ll have more money. We’ll be healthier. We’ll be in better physical shape. We’ll be more successful. We’ll be better role models for our children. AND we’ll completely avoid being exploited by others.

As I was looking for the video above, I found this one and enjoyed a little laugh:




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