The 'Marshmallow Test' tells you how successful your child will be later in life

The 'Marshmallow Test' tells you how successful your child will be later in life

As parents, you'll always want your child to be amazing at something. Something that only they're good at, so you can berate fellow parents at the playgrounds and tell everyone you know about what came out of you. I speak of course as someone with zero kids.

People want to get their child onto the winning track as soon as possible, and that means taking them to trails and making them do loads of tests. Now a new, trendy test out there that doesn't pinpoint a specific skill but does promise a happy and successful life in the future: The Marshmallow test.

Child eating a marshmallow toasted on an open fire. (Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images) Credit: Getty

While many may be raving about it right now, the marshmallow test, known officially as The Stanford marshmallow test, is a psychological experiment that goes back to the ’60s. As The Atlantic described it earlier this month:

"Put a marshmallow in front of a child, tell her that she can have a second one if she can go 15 minutes without eating the first one, and then leave the room. Whether she’s patient enough to double her payout is supposedly indicative of a willpower that will pay dividends down the line, at school and eventually at work. Passing the test is, to many, a promising signal of future success."

The future success is due to the fact that “the ability to delay gratification in childhood… has been linked to a range of positive outcomes, including greater academic achievement, stronger ability to deal with stress, maintain a healthy weight, engage in social responsibility, and forge positive relationships with peers,” according to Newsweek. That sounds like a child anyone would be proud to call their own.

Decades later, and social-science researchers are still using the marshmallow test on three to five-year-olds. What’s more, you might have assumed that the screen-obsessed Gen Z population (or iGenners some people like to call them - my favorite dub) would be less likely to wait that full 15 minutes. Makes sense as they are usually accustomed to having something to look at at every opportunity, with fewer occasions for merely sitting still.

You wouldn't be alone in that assumption. Newsgeek says: “Around 72 percent of 358 U.S. adults who took part in an online survey as part of the study said they expected today’s children to wait less than previous generations. Three quarters said they would have less self-control.”

Newsgeek also reports that according to a new report published in the journal Developmental Psychology, “Children who took part in the study in the 2000s waited two minutes longer on average than those in the 1960s, and one minute longer than those in the 1980s, the researchers found,” suggesting “that today’s kids can delay gratification longer than children in the 1960s and 1980s.”

This is one of those findings that appears to flummox researchers, although they point to possible factors like “increases in abstract thought, changes in parenting, and higher enrollment and quality of early childhood education. The sample of children also was limited to relatively higher socioeconomic status families in the U.S,” who may be used to more treats and therefore not quite as anxious to get that marshmallow.

Still, props to those kids for their patience.