Curiosities Experiments Social

► Willpower: marshmallow experiment.

A child, sweets, assured tension …

Wait, as the saying goes, sometimes despairs he says. We seem avocados to the need for immediate gratification to any appetitive momentum. Our valuable time sometimes makes us act as soon as possible despite the patient being can bring us better results in many occasions.

This fact demonstrated by the Austrian psychologist Walter Mischel at Stanford University in 1972. He completed a scientific experiment to measure the strength of will in a group of children between 3 and 6 years and their evolution in adulthood. It is at this age when it begins to make sense to the future and learn to control impulses looking for a higher profit. This skill of self-control is one of the factors that will balance after our performance, positive mood and happiness.


The study was offered to children between an immediate reward or two small rewards if they expected a small period of time (15 minutes). During this time the experimenter left the room and left alone. If children could not stand the temptation should ring a bell and the experiment ended only with a reward. This used to be a marshmallow normally (malavisco), a biscuit or desirable for each of the children thing. Only 33% of children were able to wait patiently until the return of the experimenter. In observing it looked like children used different techniques to avoid the temptation to look away, cover his eyes moving restlessly, etc. In subsequent experiments it was found that children who were induced in coping techniques achieved better results than those during the test.

In subsequent follow-up studies of these children and adults performance results in life were higher for children who were able to wait for the best rewards, according to school performance indices, body mass index, etc.


To be happy we need perks, some prefer immediate and others are more patients. There is no secret formula to do it better or worse, just have to know to choose the time and no doubt acquire good self-help skills in decision making.

Educate on emotional intelligence can be a good start to create better adults.

Here’s a video explaining the experiment:

In this other link you can see an interview with Eduard Punset Walter Mischel explaining this experiment.

Iván Pico

Director y creador de Psicólogo Colegiado G-5480 entre otras cosas. Diplomado en Ciencias Empresariales y Máster en Orientación Profesional. Máster en Psicología del Trabajo y Organizaciones. Posgrado en Psicología del Deporte entre otras cosas. Visita la sección "Sobre mí" para saber más. ¿Quieres una consulta personalizada? ¡Escríbeme!

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