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The Marshmallow Test

They call it the marshmallow test. A researcher gives this choice to a 4-year-old: “I am leaving for a few minutes to run an errand and you can have this marshmallow while I am gone, but if you wait until I return, you can have two marshmallows.”

Researchers at Stanford University ran that test in the 1960s. A dozen years later, they restudied the same children and found that those who had grabbed the single marshmallow tended to be more troubled as adolescents. Astonishingly, the one-marshmallow kids also scored an average of 210 points less on SAT tests.

Daniel Goleman tells that tale in his new book, Emotional Intelligence, to illustrate the importance of early character training. But it is also an excellent reminder—as if any more are needed—of just how critical the early home years are in the life of a child.

U.S. News & World Report, October 2, 1995, p. 88