The test that determines your child's success

We mentioned the infamous marshmallow test before — how 50 years ago, Walter Mischel offered kids two choices, they can have one marshmallow now or two marshmallows if they waited for 15 minutes. It turned out that kids who had more self control did better in school and careers than those who caved into temptation.

It has been a critical piece in social science until NYU's and UC Ervine's researchers decided to restage the test with 10 times more students who came from more diverse backgrounds.

They found that self-control alone couldn’t overcome economic and social disadvantages.


"The failed replication of the marshmallow test does more than just debunk the earlier notion; it suggests other possible explanations for why poorer kids would be less motivated to wait for that second marshmallow. For them, daily life holds fewer guarantees: There might be food in the pantry today, but there might not be tomorrow, so there is a risk that comes with waiting.

Meanwhile, for kids who come from households headed by parents who are better educated and earn more money, it’s typically easier to delay gratification: Experience tends to tell them that adults have the resources and financial stability to keep the pantry well stocked. And even if these children don’t delay gratification, they can trust that things will all work out in the end—that even if they don’t get the second marshmallow, they can probably count on their parents to take them out for ice cream instead."

Read more here.