By Behcet Bicakci, (DipLC), Life Coach
Just imagine you are four years old, and someone makes the following proposal; if you wait till the work is done (waiting for 20 minutes), you will get two marshmallows as a treat. However, if you don’t wait till the end of work, you can only have one marshmallow now.
This test is a challenge between impulse and restraint, ID and ego, desire and self-control.
Now, before you carry on with reading, I want you to think, and answer this question; what would you do? Accepting one marshmallow now and walk away or wait 20 minutes till the work is done and get two marshmallows. Let’s see what the study found?
In a study, there were children around age 4. They were told that if they wait till the end of the experiment (15-20 minutes), they could have two marshmallows, however, if they don’t want to wait till the end of the experiment they could have only one marshmallow now.
The purpose of the test to measure their ability to restrain emotion and delay impulse as well as not only identify kids’ characters but also what path they would take int the life. (Marshmallow Test by psychologist Walter Mischel)
Some kids waited till the end and got two marshmallows, while some other kids didn’t wait and they got one marshmallow at the beginning of the experiment and left the room.
After 12-14 years later, when the same children were tracked down as adolescent, the power of how impulse was handled become clear.
Those who resisted the temptation at the age of four were personally effective, socially competent, better able to cope with stress and frustration, embraced challenges and pursued them instead of giving up. In difficult times they were self-reliant, confident, trustworthy and ready to take initiatives where it was necessary. They were also able to delay gratification in pursuit of their goals as well as successful academically, and eager to learn. Furthermore, their families had also reported that their kids were socially active, better able to put their ideas in words, respected family values and a good relationship with them.
Kids who grabbed marshmallow in the seconds of the experiment and left the room had fewer of these qualities. In their adolescent, they were shying away from social activities, being stubborn, easily upset by frustrations, lack of respect for themselves as well as others, feeling of unworthy, unable to cope with stress under pressure, mistrustful and resentful about not ‘getting enough’, overreacting with sharp temper, provoking arguments, and jealousy. After a decade they were still not able to put off the gratification.
This study shows the benefit of delaying gratification in childhood and throughout life. You might have been impatient, stubborn, unnecessarily jelous, unable to delay gratification, and have been suffering and unable to reach your goals because of this. You can still work on these feelings and gain or improve the habit of delaying gratification and learn to be patient for better results and a better life.