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The Marshmallow Experiment, Success determinant?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

So, do you like one marshmallow? or two or three for that matter. The more the merrier (assuming you like marshmallow). The marshmallow study was conducted by Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel during the 1960s and 1970s as series of experiments.

The study was insightful as it provided an explanation for some becoming successful later on in their life and others not so.

 

The experiment was successful in finding a link between self control and success. The idea so perpetuated then was that delayed gratification can make or break it for you. Off course will power, persistence, determination etc were linked to it.

 

So, what was the experiment?

The experiment conducted with some children. Children separately were brought to a room and offered one marshmallow.

Subsequently, children were offered a choice.

 

They could either eat it or they could wait for sometime (while the first marshmallow was kept right in front of them as temptation) and get another one if they had not eaten the first marshmallow.

 

So, essentially to get the second marshmallow kids would have to resist the temptation of not eating the first. This meant that every kid put into such a situation had to resist the feeling of not eating the first marshmallow so as to receive another for a certain amount of time.

 

Observations

Some children were able to delay the gratification and could resist the temptation of not eating the first marshmallow. While others simply gave into the temptation.

 

What does this imply?

 

Delaying the gratification had larger implications. Those children who were able to delay the gratification and those who could not were tracked for more than 35- 40 years to see how they fare in life.

 

Fast forward, children were tracked and assessed to find that only those who could resist the temptation had fared well in their respective careers as compared to those who ate the marshmallow right away.

 

You can also watch the video here – Marshmallow Test

What does this mean for you ?

 

Other than intelligence there are certain non-cognitive factors which determine your success. Intelligence will not do everything for you. Effort, self control, will, and delaying gratification are important factors in determining how successful you will become in life.

 

Current research is questioning the established view of this experiment. It finds that it is variable along socio-economic status and susceptible to cultural variations.

Can also read – Pavlovian conditioning

Your takeaway from it,

Non-cognitive factors such as will, self control, and delaying gratification have positive impact in determining your success.

 

Traits such as being disciplined or having strong will-power and even good self control can help you achieve your goals in life. Even if you are not that intelligent there is good enough chance of you succeeding in life if you have these attributes. As intelligence alone does not determine success.

 

Goodluck to you!!!