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The Marshmallow Test: Why Trust Matters and What It Means for Employees

The Stanford “marshmallow” test is a famous experiment conducted in the 1960s and 1970s. Its purpose was to measure preschoolers’ ability to delay gratification. The experiment, conducted by psychologists Walter Mischel and Ebbe Ebbesen, consisted of presenting a child with two options: get a reward immediately or a get a larger one later.

A child could receive one marshmallow (or another favorite treat – a cookie or pretzel) immediately, or, the child could get two marshmallows later. The two marshmallows were given only if the child waited for 15-20 minutes to pass, seated alone in a room with a table on which stood a plate with the two marshmallows and a bell. The child could ring the bell to call the researcher back into the room before the allotted time. If the child managed to wait the entire time, they got the two marshmallows. If they called the researcher, they could have just one. BUT SOMETIMES EATING THE MARSHMALLOW MAKES SENSE….