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The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control by Walter Mischel

by Venky


Expanding upon a fascinating experiment conducted at the Bing Nursery School in Stanford University many decades ago, Walter Mischel expounds on the benefits derived by delaying instant gratification for future success. The famous experiment, now popular as “The Marshmallow Test” primarily aimed to put to test the will power of little children who were asked to choose between two alternatives. While under the first option, they could immediately take a candy/sweet/marshmallow (as per their preference) that was kept on a table, they were presented with a second choice under which they could lay claim to grab 2 candies/sweets/marshmallows if they could resist their desires by a mere 20 minutes.

A researcher would leave the room with a child sitting alone in front of the table upon which the candies were kept. If the child, having wrestled out by temptation decided to pick the candy, all he/she had to do was ring a bill kept on the table, hearing which the researcher would return to the room and allow the child to take one sweet of his/choice. However if the child was successfully able to resist the allure of the sweet for all of 20 minutes, the researcher would enter the room after the designated time limit and gift the winner any 2 sweets of the victor’s choice.

This simple experiment shed enormously valuable insights into the workings of the human behaviour and led the way to identifying many improvements that usually go on to embellish the living of a person, a classic example being the ability to stop smoking after being addicted to nicotine for an imperceptibly long period.

This books makes essential reading for anyone who is interested in gaining control over the more rustic senses thereby setting a focused path towards progression both in career as well as in life.

“The Mashmallow Test” – A fulfilling and rich after taste!

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