marshmallows, revisited

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The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, has been the object of intrigue for decades. The focus of this series of studies was the exploration of delayed gratification. There have been many recreations, showing young children being presented with one marshmallow and the promise that if they waited and did not eat the marshmallow, the researcher would return with two marshmallows for them to enjoy.

The findings were spectacular! Four decades later, the children from the original experiment demonstrated a strong association between the ability to delay gratification (wait for the extra marshmallows) and their mental health, differences in activity in key areas of the brain, competence and success later in life. Overall, the participants who were able to wait were more successful later in life.

Celeste Kidd worked on a more recent study that highlighted an additional point – trust. The new study manipulated the reliability of the conditions and found that waiting for the promised extra treats was strongly correlated with the degree of trust in the conditions (the trustworthiness of the promise).

Kidd explained (as quoted by Rochester University), “Delaying gratification is only the rational choice if the child believes a second marshmallow is likely to be delivered after a reasonably short delay.”

It turns out that one’s ability to employ self-control is also influenced by external factors. Thus, delayed gratification PLUS a reliable environment offers insight into success later in life.

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About Jodi Rubin, ACSW, LCSW, CEDS

Jodi graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from SUNY at New Paltz and earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University. In addition to over a decade of work as an LCSW and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist with individuals, families and groups in her private practice, Jodi is a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Certified Personal Trainer and created Destructively Fit®, a training that addresses eating disorders within the fitness industry. She is a former director of Day Treatment at The Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders and a founding member of Metropolitan Psychotherapy and Family Counseling Practice. Jodi also specializes in infertility and has served on the Clinical Advisory Board of Seleni Institute since its inception. Jodi is the creator of a curriculum on eating disorders for the Graduate School of Social Work at New York University and has been teaching this course, as well as guest lecturing in the NYU Post-Master’s Program, since 2007. Jodi actively lectures and teaches students, families and professionals throughout the metropolitan area about the etiology, prevention, treatment, assessment and work with eating disorders. Through psychotherapy and supportive work with adolescents, adults and families, Jodi works to create a secure sense of self, increased self-esteem and a healthy relationship with self and others. She works with an eclectic person-centered approach and tailors her practice techniques to the unique needs of each individual. Please feel free to contact Jodi directly in her Greenwich Village office, 212.529.5811. View all posts by Jodi Rubin, ACSW, LCSW, CEDS

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