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What Marshmallows Can Teach Us About Delayed Gratification

June 5, 2019 |

As a lesson in delayed gratification, we gave nine children one marshmallow with the promise of another if they could resist eating the first. Let’s see who passed the challenge.

Delayed gratification is the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward. In the well-known “Stanford marshmallow experiment,” executed by Walter Mischel in the late 1960s and early 1970s, young children were offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or a larger reward if they waited for a short period of time.

Recently, the defining study has been questioned by some contemporary experts who are concerned that the original experiment from the 1960s was flawed due to its small size and homogeneity. While there are clear limitations to the original marshmallow experiment, its focus on the importance of delayed gratification is still relevant.

To learn more, watch How to Talk with Children About Money: All Ages  and read our guides on talking with children about money: Preschool through High School & College and Emerging Adults.

© Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. 2019. All rights reserved. 2019.