Walter Mischel did research on delayed gratification, popularly known as marshmallow experiment, which proposes conclusion on how people responses on delay gratification.

What is delayed gratification?

It is the ability to resist the urge of getting an immediate gift or reward, but wait for the later surprise and recognition. Basically, it is controlling the urge of being satisfied with smaller recognition, which is received instantly, without waiting for the later reward which is more enduring and big. It is being found by many that the capability of holding delay gratification is directly connected to many other positive attributes in a person which includes being healthy, mentally fit and compatible with social norms following good principle which helps build a good moral.

Some other human characteristics which are said to be directly connected with the delay gratification are patience, self-control and impressive will power, determination, confidence.
The principal “Marshmallow Test” was a study led by Walter Mischel and Ebbe B. Ebbesen, at Stanford University in 1970. It was performed on some children who were given choices of getting a reward instantly or getting a bigger reward if they waited for some time.

“We were interested in creating an intense conflict for the child. That conflict was crucial, because without it, you don’t have a situation for testing self-control”

-said Mischel.


The results of the experiment were observed many years later when the kids were grown up. Their lifestyle and characteristics were noted and the result was quite anticipating.

The children who waited and opted for the second option which was resisting the use of immediate reward were seen to have higher SAT scores. To add, they had more positive attributes such as lower levels of substance misuse, lower probability of heftiness, fighting stress better, better social presence. They were also seen to score better in other fields of life.

Resisting power can shape our lives in many good ways. Let’s see some of examples of delay gratification and how it helps:

  • • If you can resist watching television a bit more during your study hours, your job will be done on time and studies will also not get hampered.
  • • If you resist the urge of eating your favorite food, one can avoid being obese. Also, if one can control the temptation of indulging in food which is very unhealthy for health. One can stay healthy for a long time.
  • • If you can delay the gratification of sleep, time management will be the most beneficial result out of it.

The purpose of a marshmallow experiment was to understand the ability to delay gratification amongst children. Also, it was to find out how really resistance can help in our lifestyle and bring about changes in regular habits.