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Follow-Up Study To Famous “Marshmallow” Experiment Released This Week

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Many educators are familiar with the famous marshmallow experiment designed to test self-control among children. I’ve written extensively about here in this blog and in my book, particularly about how I use it in the classroom. You can see a major post on the topic titled “I Like This Lesson Because It Make Me Have a Longer Temper” (Part One) or just search “marshmallow” to find other related pieces in this blog.

This week, a group of researchers, including Professor Walter Mischel, the originator of the research, released a forty-year follow-up report.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure that I understand what it says. It seems to me that the primary message is that how children behaved in the original experiment seemed to be an accurate indication of the level of self-control they would have forty years later. However, it could easily be missing something.

Let me know in the comments section if you think my understanding is correct, or if it says something more or different….

Here’s an article from The Toronto Star about this same study.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

2 Comments

  1. I agree with your interpretation. And, it seems to say that the inability to resist temptation is not very susceptible to modification efforts.
    Nature winning out over nurture yet again (stop blaming the moms!).

  2. I have started the school year by getting my students to think about cognition, metacognition and work habits. I wanted to try the marshmallow test to introduce discussion about self control. What I learned is that today’s learners are not really tempted by marshmallows. Only one student of 25 ate them after 45 minutes. Such is the nature of science and experimentation. My students suggested using M&Ms for a more tempting scenario. So I will try this with the class who went through the marshmallow experiment and my 2 classes that haven’t and won’t do the marshmallows. I also showed the TED talk after the activity to stimulate discussion,

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