Don’t Eat The Marshmallow

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

I loved this BRILLIANT speech by Joachim de Posada at the Ted Conference. This video is less than six minutes long and worth every second, especially the funny clips of four year old children trying their best not to eat a marshmallow.

A study at Stanford put four year old children alone in a room with a marshmallow. They were told that if they could last fifteen minutes without eating the marshmallow, then they would get to keep it to eat and get ANOTHER one. Two out of three children ate the marshmallow the second the door was closed. One out of three children were able to wait the fifteen minutes in order to get the double reward.

Fourteen years later, Stanford tracked down the children from this study and rated their success at school and socially. The children who were able to last the fifteen minutes without eating the marshmallow were FAR more successful in life than the others. They were able to delay gratification to get a better reward.

Delaying gratification is what eating healthy and exercising is all about. We are willing to eat simple and healthy food and sweat a little bit every day so that we can get the better reward of being healthy, slim and strong.

The next time you’re tempted to eat something that you know isn’t healthy for you, think about Joachim de Posada. The next time you’re thinking about blowing off your daily workout, remember that little girl who ate the middle out of the marshmallow to make the researcher think that she hadn’t eaten it. The only way to have a svelte and strong body is to do the things that svelte and strong people do.

Don’t eat the marshmallow. You deserve so much more.


4 Responses to “Don’t Eat The Marshmallow”

  1. Anne Says:

    You mention 2 out of 3 children ate the marshmallows, and that 1 was able to resist. However, when you talk about them in the present day you mention that the “children” who were able to last the fifteen minutes without eating the marshmallow were FAR more successful in life than the others. If there was only one out of the study, than wouldn’t it be the “child”…not the “children”.

    Just pointing out accuracy in the study.

  2. simone Says:

    agree. being able to teach this satisfaction delay to our children could be a good thing, but this experiment could have influenced the perception of “success” that each child had at the time of the experiment. I need to know more too bad i couldn’t get the full reference.

  3. Laura Moncur Says:


    They tested more than three children.

  4. Kim Says:

    He’s referring to the famous marshmallow experiment conducted by Walter Mischel. WNYC’s Radio Lab (a FANTASTIC show to podcast, by the way) did a segment about this and I think brought up an even more important feature of these findings. We can TEACH kids (and by extension, ourselves) certain techniques to defer gratification. Rather than just expecting them (or us) to remember that the later reward is going to be worthwhile, there are strategies that help us turn a ‘hot’ stimulus into a ‘cold’ stimulus.

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