Could You Resist “The Marshmallow”?

I am a “wee” bit behind on my stack of New Yorkers.  However, on the plane this past weekend, I finally had a chance to read a few.

Jonah Lehrer’s article,  “Don’t! The secret of self-control,” about Stanford Prof. Walter Mischel’s Marshmallow Experiment was really interesting.

In a nutshell, Mischel told a bunch of unsuspecting 4 year:

You can eat ONE marshmallow now.  Or, if you sit here quietly while I leave the room for a bit, you can eat TWO when I get back.

Turns out, kids only lasted on average 3 minutes before they gave in and ate (the damn) marshmallow.  Only 30% of them successfully waited the 15 minutes until the researcher’s return.

Lehrer eventually discovered a “marshmallow resistance correlation” (my term) between those who withstood the treat temptation at 4 years old… and those who had good self-control later in life.


Would your 4 year old self have resisted the initial marshmallow and waited for the larger payout?


Note: I think I probably would have held out for the second marshmallow… but not sure how my current self would do with the “wine + really good cheese” experiment.  🙂

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