Written by Shruthi Chandrasekar, a grade 5 student
Imagine this: You are sitting alone in an empty room with no distractions.
Someone comes in and gives you a marshmallow, or some other delicious snack. Just when you reach for it, the person says, “Wait! If you wait for ten minutes, alone in this room, without eating the marshmallow, I will come back and give you two.”
What do you do?
Well, that’s exactly what the test is about!
It’s pretty obvious that the people will wait for it, right?
Well, I did a little investigating on the subject, and it turns out, only very few of the kids waited. This is part of a test called the Marshmallow Test, which is conducted on young children.
So, what exactly is the test?
This was a test created by a professor at Stanford University (it’s one of the best universities in the world) that tested what is called – delayed gratification (where you postpone a reward to later rather than sooner).
The study was simple – a child was offered a choice between two options – take one small but immediate reward, or two small rewards if they waited for a period of time.
As said above, this is how it worked:
A child was given the two options mentioned above. Some children waited for two, while others ate one immediately.
Here are a few common things the children did to avoid eating the marshmallow
- Some kids tried falling asleep on purpose.
- A lot of kids tried making up games or handclaps to distract themselves.
- Others tried making the snack look less appetizing, by imagining it to be something gross.
The idea was to study the lives of these children when they became adults to see if the ones who waited did better in life. But, it’s not that simple – in one group that was studied, the children who waited did better, but in another group, it was not that clear.
This actually suggested that economic background mattered more.
Just to tell you how it feels, I put myself under a chocolate test, because I like chocolates more than marshmallows. I used all these techniques to avoid eating the chocolate…
And I passed! But it was hard. Try it yourself! And tell us how it went
Here’s a video that shows the test: