.st0{fill:#FFFFFF;}
  • Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • Stanford marshmallow experiments

Stanford marshmallow experiments 

By  Lysette Offley

 

Stanford marshmallow experiments - photo of marshmallowsYou are probably aware of the Stanford marshmallow experiments with four-year-olds in the 1960-70s, studying the tricky subject of delayed gratification.

What do we want?

Gratification!

When do we want it?

Now!

Walter Mischel, thought it a good idea to leave young children in a room, on their own, except for a choice: eat the one marshmallow plonked in front of them now, or wait…

And wait…

And wait… for the experimenter to return with (trumpet fanfare, roll on the drum)… wait for it…

TWO marshmallows!

Er… so what, I hear you ask!

Well it turns out, that this early test of delayed gratification is a quite accurate predictor of the children’s adult life outcomes, educational attainment, health and happiness!

Who knew!

Stanford marshmallow experiments - photo of marshmallow cup cakesIn the same way that we know that a child’s self-esteem is well-established by the age of five, so is their ability to strive for a long-term goal – to put off a small reward now, in order to gain a bigger one later.

And in the case of these particular experiments, 15 minutes later.

And that’s a long, loooong time for a young person to wait.

It must have been fascinating for the experimenter to observe the various strategies adopted by those kids to distract themselves from the prize before them.

  • Turning their backs on it.
  • Counting out loud.
  • Playing their toes like keys on a piano keyboard.
  • Singing ditties.
  • Making a thorough exploration of their left nostril!

It’s interesting to note in later experiments, that the children tended to wait, only if past experiences demonstrated that they could rely on the promises made previously by the experimenter.

And then they’d wait up to 4 times longer, bless their little cotton socks!

Kids are no fools! Let them down once, and you’ve lost their trust.

Sitzfleisch

The ability to sit in your seat and reach a goal, despite obstacles.
Or, according to Wiktionary…

ˈzɪtsflʌɪʃ/

noun: US informal
1. Power to endure or to persevere in an activity; stamina.”I was given tasks which required lots of Sitzfleisch, but didn’t offer much excitement”
2. A person’s buttocks.”the bedspring tattooed waffles all over my Sitzfleisch

Now you know!

Lysette Offley


With 40 years of experience, Lysette Offley is a Memory and Mindset Coach to women and men at the top of their game in the Financial Services Industry who recognise the value of continual personal and professional development and support to achieve a healthy work-life balance, along with satisfaction and fulfilment.

Your Signature

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to my Memory & Mindset newsletter now!

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close