Can you pass the marshmallow test?

The Marshmallow Test

About 40 years ago there was a study done about children who couldn’t resist marshmallows and cookies; a test of will-power if you like which follows through into adulthood.

The research done by Walter Mischel at Stanford University was conducted on 4-year olds to show the importance of impulse control and delayed gratification for academic, emotional and social success.

Mischel put marshmallows in front of a room full of 4-year olds telling them they could have one marshmallow now, but if they could wait just 5-minutes they could have two.  He told them he was leaving for a short while and if you can wait till I return you can eat two.

Of course some children greedily grabbed a marshmallow and ate it.  Others waited, some had to cover their eyes in order not to see the tempting treat and one child even licked the table around one of the marshmallows.

Michel followed the group and found that 14-years later that the ‘grabbers’ suffered from lower esteem and were viewed buy others as suborn, prone to envy and easily frustrated.  They engaged in the process of ‘scoring points’ and short term gain strategies. Those who waited coped much better with complex and potentially frustrating situations.  They were more self-assured and assertive, more trustworthy and dependable and showed greater academic achievement.


The moral of the story is that if we can find it within ourselves to wait the better the rewards will be.

How can we use this information in our everyday business lives?

You will meet people sometimes in higher positions, sometime not, who reach for the quick wins (all the time).  These people will usually prove themselves to be unreliable and possibly even untrustworthy.  We’ve all met them, we’ve all worked with them and sometimes we still do.

These people can be toxic to your business, regardless of their status and position and you are best advised to be aware of and wary of them.  If on the other hand you are actually one of these people then you can take heart and act to avoid the mistakes of your youth.  Information and knowledge is the key here.  Be aware of yourself and your impulses, don’t put yourself in harm’s (temptations) way and if unavoidable then you must try really hard, really, really, really hard not to do the thing that will lead to your making rash and ill thought through decisions, submitting to your temptations.

By controlling your impulses you will make better and more significant decisions for the longer term.  You may move yourself into the bracket of those who do not envy, do not get easily frustrated and who are not so stubborn.  You may with practice change your character for the better (for all).

Its been a pleasure to share my thoughts and thanks to all those who read my post’s.

For more information and insights you can also see what I have to say and share on;

Twitter; @dawson1965

Read about me;



2 thoughts on “Can you pass the marshmallow test?

  1. I believe will-power is kind of a muscle. As a kid I would never pass this test (I had an incredible sweet tooth). But as time went by, I think I can resist anything. This is really great that we change over time!


Thank You for reading, please leave a reply or comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s