Only a few experiments drew as much attention as the famous “marshmallow experiments” by Walter Mischel. To test the ability of self-control, Mischel and Co. confronted hundreds of children with a difficult decision:
“You can either eat a small amount of sweets (e.g., one marshmallow) right now or you wait for a larger amount of sweets (e.g. two marshmallows).”
Many years later the researchers observed an amazing correlation (Mischel et al., 1988; Shoda et al., 1990): Those children who had been able to delay the gratification, were rated higher in social competence, frustration tolerance and academic success. In addition, they even showed better performance in the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). However, especially the calculated correlations with the SAT scores were based on a very small sample (N = 35). Therefore the recently published replication by Duckworth, Tsukayama and Kirby (2013) is highly important to back up the results of the original marshmallow experiments.
Walter Mischel – Marshmallow Experiment – Delay of Gratification – Delay Time at age of four – correlation – social competence, academic competence, frustration tolerance – SAT Scores – small sample size – replications – Duckworth, Tsukayama, Kirby – 966 children – smaller correlation