Marshmallows can say a lot about millennials.
New information on one of the most famous psychological experiments that used the sugary treat to measure children's personality traits.
A huge part of being a kid is learning how to sit still and quietly wait. Waiting patiently to play while your parents finish up an adult conversation and painfully eating your veggies before being allowed to dive into dessert.
Stanford University researchers conducted the original marshmallow test in 1968. It involved a series of experiments involving three to 5-year-old. The children were offered a deal. One treat that they could eat immediately. For example, a marshmallow, cookie or pretzel for another larger treat if they waited. Researchers then left the room and watched from behind a one-way mirror to see how long the children would wait.
The ability to delay gratification in early childhood has been associated with a range of positive outcomes including greater academic competence, higher SAT scores, healthier weight, effectively coping with stress and frustration, positive personal relationships in adolescence and beyond.
Replicas of the "marshmallow experiment" were repeated in the 1980s and early 2000s. Fifty years’ worth of results were recently published by the American Psychological Association. In the original experiment, most preschoolers gobbled up one treat immediately rather than wait several minutes to get two. A University of Minnesota research team found that children who participated in the studies during the early 2000s waited an average of two minutes longer than those kids from the 1960s and one minute longer than those tested in the 1980s.
Showing that today's youngsters may be able to delay gratification significantly longer to get that extra reward. Interestingly, an online survey conducted by the researchers predicted different results.
It said 75-percent of U.S adults believe that children today have less self- control, are more impulsive and less patient, compared to kids in the 1960s.
Researchers are not clear why the current generation has more self control but speculate that a broader rise in intelligence. This has been linked to globalization, society's increased focus on early education, changes in parenting, cognitive skills and abstract thoughts associated with screen technologies and how much the child trusts the situation are some possibilities.
Factors like household income and parental education better explain and can forecast children's long-term success. Researchers say their findings serve an example of how our perception can be wrong and why it is important to do research.
Adults can get caught up with nostalgia of simpler times where there were less distractions.