The marshmallow experiment

The marshmallow experiment is a famous test from the 1960s, where a group of four-year olds were given a marshmallow. The kids were told they could eat the marshmallow now, or wait 20 minutes and get a second marshmallow.

The marshmallow test video

Cute kids!

The researchers from the 1960’s marshmallow test documented which children waited and which did not. They then followed the children for 18 years and compared the two groups: the marshmallow eaters vs. the kids who waited. The results? The children who waited for the second marshmallow did better in school and in life.

Why is this?

The ability to delay gratification is an important skill for life success. 

Now apply the marshmallow experiment to shopping. Instead of buying something when the idea strikes you, keep a list of things you’d like to buy on your fridge. After 30 days evaluate the items on your list. Do you still want them? Can you afford them? Can you delay a little longer?

Try this experiment. Delaying purchases should result in fewer purchases, and what you do buy will be sweeter because of the wait.


  1. This is a super idea. I have been using it in a modified version for years with online shopping. I put something in my cart, then go away for a week, and if I still want it then, I can order it. I have probably saved at least a million dollars doing this. I usually don’t even remember to go back and check the cart.

  2. This was very cute :) I hadn’t heard of the marshmallow experiment from the 1960’s. Very interesting. Good luck staring at the marshmallow for 20 minutes!

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