IS YOUR VOCABULARY AS STRONG AS A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT? TRY THIS QUIZ TO SEE!
Origin of marshmallow
OTHER WORDS FROM marshmallowmarsh·mal·low·y, adjective
Words nearby marshmallow
Definition for marshmallow (2 of 2)
What is the Marshmallow Test?
Where did the Marshmallow Test come from?
The Marshmallow Test was first administered by psychologist Walter Mischel at Stanford University’s Bing Nursery School in 1960. To study the development of self-control and patience in young children, Mischel devised an experiment, “Attention in Delay of Gratification,” popularly called the Marshmallow Test by the 1990s.
The test placed a choice before children. They could eat a treat—often in the form of a marshmallow but also a pretzel or cookie—before them right away or get two treats if they waited 15 minutes, during which time the experimenter would leave the room and observe.
Some kids ate the marshmallow right away, others couldn’t make it the full waiting period, and about a third earned that second treat. The study showed children hiding their faces, squirming, or engaging in make-believe to help them cope with the temptation.
The Marshmallow Test gained greater recognition after Mischel followed up on his subjects in the 1980–90s, where he found that children who earned the second treat scored significantly higher on their SATs than their counterparts and avoided problems like drug addiction and jail time at greater rates.
Mischel wrote up his research for general audiences in his 2014 book Marshmallow Test, which championed self-control as the key to success.
Sound too good to be true?
Well, in a study published in 2018, researchers Tyler Watts, Greg Duncan, and Hoanan Quan replicated the Marshmallow Test. They found a strong correlation between a child’s socioeconomic status and their early ability to resist the marshmallow.
Their results suggest that the original experiment failed to take into account outside factors such as family background and home environment, with poorer children perhaps less motivated to wait due to the uncertainties and challenges of their everyday lives.
How to use the term Marshmallow Test
The Marshmallow Test comes up in discussions of popular psychology and economics, such as on Freakonomics or in high school or college courses. Sometimes, it’s the subject of humorous observations about adult temptations.
Since 2018, the Marshmallow Test has come under scrutiny for the overpromises or oversights of experiments in social science, including the so-called “replication crisis,” where the results of major and influential studies have been found impossible to replicate.
The marshmallow test is one of the most well-known studies in all of psychology, but a new replication suggests we've been learning the wrong lesson from its findings for decades: https://t.co/sHUrzPXVZO pic.twitter.com/dIz8gBEMIx
— You Are Not So Smart (@notsmartblog) July 3, 2018
I'm not even 100% sure I'd be able to pass the marshmallow test as an adult.
— scott olberding (@isthatsol) July 2, 2018
More examples of marshmallow test:
“The study, published this week in the journal Developmental Psychology, resurrected an experiment that’s become a developmental psychology classic: the so-called marshmallow test.”
—Melissa Healey, The Los Angeles Times, June 2018
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
Example sentences from the Web for marshmallow
Melt butter and marshmallow in big stock pot then add puffed rice cereal.Epic Meal Empire’s Meat Monstrosities: From the Bacon Spider to the Cinnabattleship|Harley Morenstein|July 26, 2014|DAILY BEAST
One protest veteran, who asked not to be named, described Barrett as a “marshmallow.”Scott Walker's Last Stand? Democrats Lose Momentum In Wisconsin|Sally Kohn|June 1, 2012|DAILY BEAST
A marriage made in heaven, soft, sweet, marshmallow meringue, melting cream, and a smattering of fruit.
The result is lighter than buttercream but more intense than marshmallow.
Instead, their marshmallow was covered from view, or they were given a pretend scenario to distract themselves with.
Lichen with milk in the morning, syrup of marshmallow, two cynoglossum pills!The Social Cancer|Jos Rizal
Gloomily, Marshmallow thrust his hand into his coat pocket and brought out two candy bars.Doris Force at Locked Gates|Julia K. Duncan
Then you need some long, pointed sticks on which to hold the marshmallow candies as you toast them.Six Little Bunkers at Cousin Tom's|Laura Lee Hope
The last two are commonly sold for marshmallow paste (pte de guimauve).Cooley's Practical Receipts, Volume II|Arnold Cooley
Simmer an ounce and a half of marshmallow roots in two gills of water, for ten minutes, closely covered.The Golden Age Cook Book|Henrietta Latham Dwight