October 25th, 2014
04:25 PM ET

The man behind the marshmallow test

Fifty years ago, a groundbreaking psychological experiment on self-control was conducted on preschoolers – involving marshmallows. Fareed speaks with Walter Mischel, the man behind the experiment. Watch the full interview this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

So you tracked these children down 50 years later, and what did you find?

Mischel: Oh, we found a great deal. We found to our surprise when they were about 13, 14, 15 years old, that the ones who had waited longer on the marshmallow test were doing better in school, were doing better socially and were doing better on SAT scores by quite a bit. And we became very interested in why are they – we seeing these differences? What's that really all about? And we began to pursue them, really, over the years, and approximately every 10 or 12 years, did a follow-up.

Now, when you kept tracking them, did that – this difference you saw – 10 years later, the kids who managed to have delayed gratification were doing better. Was it true 20 years later? Was it true 30 years later? Was it true 40 years later?

Mischel: What happens is that the ones who remain consistently high in self-control over the years, as opposed to the ones who remain consistently low in self-control over the years form two quite different life trajectories that are distinctly different.

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soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. Crockett

    Marshmallow up your butte, FZ.

    October 26, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Reply
  2. chri§§y

    Grow up punk boy! Or better yet grow a pair.

    October 26, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Reply
  3. Martin Weiss

    This experiment has been repeated multiple times and explored in multiple countries.

    There is a children's book "The Marshmallow Test" by Michelle Claus which explores this from the perspective of the child who is waiting for "Something even better". The book is also Lexile scored making it appropriate for independent reading by school children's class room required reading.

    This is a great book for parents and teachers to open a discussion with a young child about the benefits of waiting versus having what you can own immediately.

    Check out the look inside views of this book at Amazon and see for yourself.

    October 27, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Reply
  4. 100% Ethio-Britain (American)

    Do the parents have this $$$$$$$$$$$???
    1) Yes, you got it!!!
    2) No? Your chances are very slim.

    Have a good ....

    October 29, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Reply
  5. David McCord

    This was a really great opportunity to see the iconic Walter Mischel discussing this famous study. I particularly appreciated his evolved view on the role of genetics in behavior, quite different from his stance in the 1960s. I watched the whole interview on Sunday and wish this clip showed the entire thing, as I would like to show it in my personality theory class this week.

    October 29, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Reply
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