Kids today are waiting longer than ever in the classic marshmallow test | Science News


Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Kids today are waiting longer than ever in the classic marshmallow test

Researchers aren’t sure what’s driving this willingness to delay gratification

2:12pm, June 29, 2018
marshmallow test

HOLD OUTS  Over the past 50 years, white, middle-class kids have shown an increasing willingness to delay gratification on the marshmallow test, a new study finds. Reasons for this trend, and the relationship of marshmallow test scores to later behavior, are unclear.

Hold that marshmallow and don’t ask for s’more.

Some kids today wait much longer to get an extra treat in the famed marshmallow test than they did in the 1960s or even the ‘80s, researchers say. So, so much for the view that internet-savvy, smartphone-toting tykes want what they want at warp speed.

This willingness to delay gratification has recently bloomed among U.S. preschoolers from predominantly white, middle-class families, say psychologist Stephanie Carlson of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and her colleagues. Youngsters aged 3 to 5 in the 2000s waited an average of two minutes longer during the marshmallow test than children in the 1960s did, and an average of one minute longer than 1980s kids did, the scientists report June 25 in Developmental Psychology.

Reasons for kids’ rising patience when confronted with an available treat are unclear. Carlson&rsquo

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content