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Marshmallow Test

The Marshmallow Test Revisited


You may already be familiar with the marshmallow test. If not, imagine a 4-year old in a room. The researcher puts a marshmallow on the table in front of the child and tells him or her that they can have the marshmallow, but, if they wait until the researcher returns, they can have two marshmallows. Some kids wait and get two. Some are munching the sweet treat as soon as the researcher leaves the room.

The findings of the original marshmallow test indicated that a child’s ability to defer gratification early in life is a predictor of academic achievement as an adolescent. New findings, however, tell a very different story. Most importantly, the research suggests that interventions to teach kids to defer gratification alone are not effective. The researcher behind the latest science is Dr. Taylor Watts, a postdoctoral fellow at New York University. He explains the implications of his research thus, “If intervention developers hope to generate the kinds of improvements associated with the original marshmallow study, it is likely to be more fruitful to target the broader cognitive and behavioral abilities related to gratification delay.”

It makes sense that comprehensive integrated development of cognitive skills, including executive functions like inhibitory control, could fit the bill for such an intervention. This is precisely the way BrainWare SAFARI is designed.

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