HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Why Rich Kids Are So Good...

Fri Jun 1, 2018, 10:22 PM

Why Rich Kids Are So Good at the Marshmallow Test

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/06/marshmallow-test/561779/?utm_source=atlfb

The marshmallow test is one of the most famous pieces of social-science research: Put a marshmallow in front of a child, tell her that she can have a second one if she can go 15 minutes without eating the first one, and then leave the room. Whether she’s patient enough to double her payout is supposedly indicative of a willpower that will pay dividends down the line, at school and eventually at work. Passing the test is, to many, a promising signal of future success.

But a new study, published last week, has cast the whole concept into doubt. The researchers—NYU’s Tyler Watts and UC Irvine’s Greg Duncan and Hoanan Quan—restaged the classic marshmallow test, which was developed by the Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel in the 1960s. Mischel and his colleagues administered the test and then tracked how children went on to fare later in life. They described the results in a 1990 study, which suggested that delayed gratification had huge benefits, including on such measures as standardized test scores.

Watts and his colleagues were skeptical of that finding. The original results were based on studies that included fewer than 90 children—all enrolled in a preschool on Stanford’s campus. In restaging the experiment, Watts and his colleagues thus adjusted the experimental design in important ways: The researchers used a sample that was much larger—more than 900 children—and also more representative of the general population in terms of race, ethnicity, and parents’ education. The researchers also, when analyzing their test’s results, controlled for certain factors—such as the income of a child’s household—that might explain children’s ability to delay gratification and their long-term success.

Ultimately, the new study finds limited support for the idea that being able to delay gratification leads to better outcomes. Instead, it suggests that the capacity to hold out for a second marshmallow is shaped in large part by a child’s social and economic background—and, in turn, that that background, not the ability to delay gratification, is what’s behind kids’ long-term success.

14 replies, 2582 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread

Response to gollygee (Original post)

Fri Jun 1, 2018, 11:09 PM

1. "Experience tends to tell them that adults have the resources and financial stability to keep ...

... keep the pantry well stocked"

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to gollygee (Original post)

Fri Jun 1, 2018, 11:12 PM

2. And does it control for a child's lack of interest in marshmallows?

Even as a child, I would have to expend zero effort to resist the non-urge to eat a marshmallow.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pnwmom (Reply #2)

Sat Jun 2, 2018, 01:56 AM

7. heh, heh, same here!

I can probably count on both hands the times I've eaten marshmallows, campfire or not. They're disgusting IMO, kind of like those Easter things, Peeps. I get the willies just thinking about it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to yonder (Reply #7)

Sat Jun 2, 2018, 04:54 AM

11. so true. tho fire roasted well done is bearable. bissinger makes almost good eggs.

but plain?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pnwmom (Reply #2)

Sat Jun 2, 2018, 08:51 AM

13. Presumably that trait's randomly distributed.

So shouldn't matter.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to gollygee (Original post)

Fri Jun 1, 2018, 11:45 PM

3. A bet most kids who went on to business "success," ate it knowing they could steal some more.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to gollygee (Original post)

Fri Jun 1, 2018, 11:56 PM

4. Marshmallows are no big deal for a rich kid.

I suspect the size of the family may also be significant. When you have siblings AND are poor, you learn to grab fast.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ThoughtCriminal (Reply #4)

Sat Jun 2, 2018, 12:38 AM

5. This goes directly to my first thought on the subject

It isn't about self control at all. It is about having faith that the resource will be available in the future.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sentath (Reply #5)

Sat Jun 2, 2018, 02:27 AM

8. yep, always my first thought as well. This seems so obvious that it had to take

 

people from that very social pool of "exceptionalism..." to accept this tripe as wisdom, because that's what confirmation bias does for you, and because , conveniently, it also continues to justify the social order. Sometimes I'm astonished by the broad interpretations that have been passed off as scientific.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sentath (Reply #5)

Sat Jun 2, 2018, 08:57 AM

14. While The Atlantic seemed to suggest this

was a research finding, the original study this was all based on was from the '60s. '68 I think, without rummaging. Not sure about the age of the kids involved.

It claimed "delayed self-gratification = academic achievement later in life".

It was within a year or two that a counter-claim was advanced, so by '70 or perhaps before--that rule-stability and predictability was what was at play. If you suspect that the person saying the second cookie was going to make the second cookie available, you'd wait. Cookie now vs 2 cookies in 15 minutes.

If you had been told that there are no reliable rules but things can shift under your feet at any time, then the future value of holding off on that first cookie is pretty small. The options are then one cookie now versus a very good chance of no cookies later.

I don't know of anybody that's advanced the claim that the *sole* factor is delayed self-gratification. If that's really in the article, it's either a straw man out of ignorance or to inflate the importance of the work.

Now, that there is *no* effect would be a contribution.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to gollygee (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2018, 12:50 AM

6. I don't think this experiment proves much of anything.

 

It does take a lot of self-control to do well in school and life. I say that at 75.

If children see that their parents have a lot of self-control, don't eat or drink too much, go to work on time, etc., aren't the children more likely to copy the behavior of their parents?

And aren't parents who play by the rules, carefully because they have a lot of self-control, on the average, with exceptions, but on the average when you include enough children in the study, likely to succeed more in life and, provided they enjoy good health, be better off.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sophia4 (Reply #6)

Sat Jun 2, 2018, 03:29 AM

9. I think first they should have offered a child a choice of several edibles.

Then they should have left them alone with their favorite, and promised another.

Assuming all kids would like marshmallows seems wrong to me.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to gollygee (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2018, 04:31 AM

10. Do we know what else the kids were given to do in those 15 minutes?

If it's "not very much", then it could be a rational decision to think after a few minutes "I'll have the marshmallow now, because I'll get out of this room at the end and have other things to do, rather than eat 2 marshmallows".

I ask because I saw film of them setting up this experiment a few days ago, and the room the child was left in looked pretty boring. There is, after all, that experiment in which adults are able to give themselves mild electrical shocks, and many do, just to pass the time or see what's it's like.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to gollygee (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2018, 06:50 AM

12. It could also be to do with subjects' trust of the experimenters.

If you're in such an artificial setting, who's to say that second marshmallow will ever be forthcoming?

If life and the people around you have been "fair" to you so far, maybe you're more likely to go along with it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread