What is the marshmallow test effect? You are sacrificing your future!

What is the marshmallow test effect?

What is the marshmallow test effect?

Remember, when I mentioned this marshmallow test in my previous blog on what is Akrasia? If you have not yet read that blog, you can read it after reading this one. The beautiful part is that both are interrelated.

This blog will answer questions like,

Why am I not successful in life?
Why am I not able to lose weight?
Why am I not able to study?
Why am I not able to finish my book?
Why am I not able to make an impact?

The marshmallow test was conducted in the mid 20th century by the then Stanford University professor Walter Mischel. Mind you, this is one of the most famous psychology experiments ever conducted!

The experiment consisted of a group of pre-school children between 3 to 5 years of age. Each of the children was sat down with a marshmallow. If they were able to wait for a while till the researcher was back again, they would be awarded another. However, if they ate the marshmallow, they would lose the benefit.

As expected, it was tough to control. Marshmallows are children's favorites! It was fascinating and sweet to see ways in which the subjects were trying to restrain themselves. Some jumped up at the marshmallow as soon as the researcher left. Others fiddled with it. Some did control.

Though this experiment sounds simple, it is groundbreaking. To simplify, let me ask you to choose between a marshmallow now or rewarded with another marshmallow later. Of course, you want to be rewarded, but do you want to wait?

Years later, The University of Rochester revisited this experiment. However, this time the same marshmallow experiment was conducted differently.

A group of children was provided with a container of used crayons. Just like the marshmallow experiment, they were asked to wait for a better art and craft kit. However, this time the group was separated into two environments- reliable and unreliable.

In an unreliable environment, the researchers returned but without the better kit as promised. After the crayon experiment, a sticker experiment was done with the same set of children. Yet again, the researcher failed to fulfill the promise. These two experiments were finally followed by the marshmallow experiment.

In a reliable environment, the researchers fulfilled their promises both in the crayon experiment and the sticker one. The marshmallow experiment followed.

Modification of the environment changed the waiting times. The marshmallow test after subjecting to children to unreliable environments cut down patience level to half. On the other side, those children flourished. They waited doubly more!

Now it is time for the question.

What does the marshmallow test mean to us? What does it say about us as human beings?

If you ask a dog to think about the future, it just cannot! If you spot a cute elephant and experiment with it the marshmallow test, it is unlikely to understand. Delayed gratification does not prevail in animals.

Ah yes, delayed gratification is the trick. What is it? It is not only the ability to think about our future but also the ability to act towards it. In the marshmallow test, waiting was an activity that would double their rewards. Animals do not have the privilege to think about their future. It needs food to survive and can sense threats from far away.

Research has shown that those children who waited for the second marshmallow were more successful in life than their peers who believed in instant gratification. They had better SAT scores, better relationships, and better lives!

However, we did observe how environments changed our patience levels. You are not patient by birth, but it is the way you are brought up that determines your patience. You want instant gratification. This is what I will refer to as the marshmallow effect.

As millennials today, we lack patience. We fail wherever patience is needed. We break eggs for the chick to come out. This sounds moronic, but this best explains our acts. I have addressed plenty of issues with the millennials today in my other blog. If you haven't read it yet, go and read it.

Whenever you are starting a new venture, you don't trust the results just like those children in an unreliable environment. If you are one of those children, you have to change your mindset and develop a reward system of your own. It will condition your brain to think that waiting is a fine thing, or else you will sacrifice your future.

Children buy candy as soon as they see one in a grocery store. Even when we are overweight, we don't mind having a piece of cake. Well, you know the size of your piece!

Patch-ups and break-ups happen in a day. When it comes to maintaining a relationship, we always suffer. This is what happens when love originates from a swipe on Tinder. Once we are in love, we do not understand what is better for building a long-lasting relationship. We break up just because we don't have the patience.

When it comes to your studies, you do desire to score high in your exams. But, you are ready to sacrifice your unseen future with what is there in the present. Your marshmallow is a TV or a video game! After the exams, you can enjoy them more, realizing that you have already done your best. You still choose to reward yourself now for nothing.

You love to expect results at the touch of your button. The delayed gratification ability has worsened over the years. It is not always technology that is to be blamed. Poor parenting or ineffective parenting is a big reason behind impatience.

Since you are aware of the marshmallow effect now, you can reward yourself with things you love to do, only when you have done the necessaries. Use the Seinfeld strategy with the delayed gratification technique for maximum results.

Be inspired.

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