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The Marshmellow Test

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  4,908 ratings  ·  532 reviews
A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behavior later in life?

The world's leading expert on self-control, Walter Mischel has proven that the ability to delay gratification is critical for a successful life, predicting higher SAT scores, better social
317 pages
Published September 23rd 2014 by Little Brown Book (first published 2014)
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Biggus No. It isn't aimed at that age, and as such, it isn't going to work. Not so much that a smart kid couldn't get it, it's more if he'd want to. The…moreNo. It isn't aimed at that age, and as such, it isn't going to work. Not so much that a smart kid couldn't get it, it's more if he'd want to. The style just isn't suitable.(less)
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3.74  · 
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 ·  4,908 ratings  ·  532 reviews

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Amir Tesla
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: neuroscience
“The intelligent desire self-control; children want candy.” (Rumi)

The subject: This delicate book, wraps up the latest findings on self-control and willpower, the line of study which was initiated in 1960 by the author "Walter Mischel".

The book: This is the fifth book I've read about self-control and willpower, so it would be natural not expect much new insights. I was wrong. This book actually enhanced, perfected and debugged many of the ideas I'd read in previous books.

Self-control is the si
What can I say about this one? It definitely isn't my usual type of book, as I prefer entertainment over enlightenment any day. That being said, it was interesting in the beginning and periodically throughout the book there were case studies that caught my attention.

The downside was that there was very little practical guidance offered. It read like a scientific literature review on self-control. Not surprisingly, young children that are able to delay gratification in exchange for a larger rewa
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book holds a wonderfully invigorating message: new research has proven that we are not prisoners to nature, nor to nurture. If we want to, we can change those most stubborn attributes of willpower and fear. Our life situation may not have set us up to be college graduates, financially stable, healthy, or heroes, but we still can be. We decide. We are capable.

The Marshmallow Test does not give you a thirty day plan to achieving your dreams. It does not provide recipes or an exercise regimen
Jun 16, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help, 2014, gratis

This is a well written book, but it did not influence my self control. I thought that the information was displayed in an interesting and simple format and I enjoyed how the author attempted to get points across with real life stories.

I picked up this book hoping it would help me learn better self control techniques, and while The Marshmallow Test did cover this, it mainly focused on the effects of biology when it came to self control, and a large part was about how to rear your child to have be
Sep 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, audio
It is a bit ironic and telling that while reading The Marshmallow Test, I wanted Dr. Mischel to cut to the chase and just give me the tips and tricks that would enable me to gain more self-control. Even if I currently lack patience as an adult and probably would have been one of the children that wanted one marshmallow right now, he has written a book that gives me hope along with plenty of scientific explanation that self-control is a skill that I can develop, nurture and practice. I think the ...more
Jonna Higgins-Freese
Wow. This was about as fluffy as you can get.

There were a few useful tips in the last chapter regarding making your future/final goal "hot" or real to you, and your current need to refrain "cold" by using strategies to think of other things, but that was it. I felt that the summaries of this research I'd read elsewhere were about as useful as this book.

5.20.2015 update: Since I read the book, I came across an interesting critique: that there are kids who live in chaotic homes where there may be
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The marshmallow experiment was a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s by psychologist Walter Mischel, this book shows the experiment Of this studies .

The marshmallow test begin by offering the child a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned.

And of course some of the children didn’t wait and other where more patient so they
Mind provoking book!
This book is absolutely essential to read for everyone.
The author is a well known psychologist whose his work has been misunderstood widely by even psychologists. Which is pitty. I enjoyed and used the material of this book, daily.
I will re-read this book in the future as it is a great source of strategies to self-control.
Christian Allen
A book with far too much fat in need of trimming, this 300 pager could have been half that length or less. Unremarkable findings are presented as the latest and greatest in neuroscience and wrapped in psychobabble.

If you're looking for a cute story of the original test at Stanford and some vague suggestions on enhancing self control this is your book. If you're looking for a to-the-point message and a how to guide backed by real data look elsewhere.
Ali Sattari
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, science
Fascinating read, I didn't expect to read such fundamental facts on will power, executive function and their broad effect on our various traits. I think I would read this at least once more, just to be sure I've absorbed the most!
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education, psychology

I had very high SAT scores. Perhaps more importantly, I had very high PSAT scores (National Merit Scholar). I did take a Kaplan course to help prepare... but not everybody who took a Kaplan course did as well as I did... and I took the test a year younger than most. I used to credit homeschooling with my high academic performance. But... I have 3 siblings, and none of them did quite as well as me on standardized tests (though my younger brother did go on to get a PhD in music). So far
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2015
This is an interesting book on self control. It starts by explaining the principles behind the "Marshmallow Test' where a child is offered a treat that they can take now, or if they are prepared to wait for a short period of time then the proffered treat will increased. This simple test gives psychologists a tool to predict how a individual will behave much later in life and how successful they will be.

Mischel then expands into other studies on behaviour that he has been involved in and covers s
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: goodreads-wins
I won a copy of this book on Goodreads and I absolutely loved this book! I wasn't familiar with Dr. Mischel's pioneering research on self-control and delayed gratification until reading this book. The Marshmallow Test was created by Dr. Mischel over 40 years ago at Stanford University. Dr. Mischel's research used preschoolers in order to understand the relationship between delaying instant gratification and the cognitive processes used to achieve self-control. Only 30% of the preschoolers were a ...more
Aleksandar Mićović
A pretty great book that goes into the research that shows self-control can be learned. Genetics still play a part, but not as large a part as we once thought.

The book is divided into 3 sections. The first section deals with the original marshmallow test and related research, while the second and third sections deal with applications and strategies. I would have liked it if the first section were shorter as it seemed far too long for the amount of research it had to present. More strategies and
Adelina Stanciu
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I think, therefore I can change what I am.”
I chose to read "The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control" by Walter Mischel for two reasons. One- I learned about the study in school and I was interested in learning more. Two- I was hoping the conclusion of the book may help me gain a bit more self control, since I am a soon to be college student I think now is the time to improve on my self discipline. Unfortunately I did not find any solid advice on improving self control in this book, all I "learned" was self control tactics i already ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I’ve lately been quite taken with the idea that one of the biggest secrets of an ultimately happy life is
the development of self-control. If you haven’t heard about this fascinating study, let me sum it up
for you: Children are taken to an isolated room and presented with one marshmallow. If the child is
willing to wait for a time period until the researcher returns to the room and is able to avoid eating
the one marshmallow, he will be given two marshmallows. Some children could do it; some cou
Aug 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A delicacy for any impulsive character looking for shortcuts. There are some.
You get to know how one part of the brain, labeled the hot brain, reacts immediately to stimuli, while the prefrontal cortex, or the cool brain, can exercise self-control. Mischel tells you, based on 40 years of research, how to "cool" your impulses and delay rewards.
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unsexy, pleonastic and often boring read which manages to still be fascinating by rigorously covering important stuff. This is real psychology, the slow grind of longitudinal research that, by the time the papers are published will already have permeated the popular culture to such an extent it'll be greeted with a "no shit, Sherlock", everyone forgetting that what they're getting is the actual source of everyone's sudden insight. Not a whiff of the usual self-help platitudes, but much to gai ...more
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control by Walter Mischel

The "marshmallow test" is one of the few psychological experiments that has permeated into large parts of the public consciousness. In the original experiment, done by Walter Mischel and his colleagues in the 1960s at Stanford, young children aged seven to nine would be asked to choose from an assortment of treats. Options included the eponymous marshmallows, but tykes could choose a cookies or whatever they found most tempting. The e
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't think there is a book in our universe that can change our life without struggling, but I believe there is books that can make really good influence on our mind and then change our habits. This book is one of them
Bonnie Samuel
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really interesting book! It's not exactly what I was expecting, since most of the focus is on past research studies on children, as opposed to a how-to guide for adults, but I really enjoyed reading it. It shows that self-control can be learned and improved upon, that "this is just how I am" isn't really a valid way to excuse behaviors that hurt relationships or personal success and happiness. That's not how you are. That's how you want to be. I could see a lot of myself and my sister ...more
Om Manghani
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice book, I think Mischel did a good job of getting across his point about willpower, and really hammering it home at the end. Some of the strategies that he talked about were quite fascinating.

I liked how he was able to apply his main claim to so many different realms of life, which I did not even think we're possible. He applied self-control to relationships, managing money, and more. In these situations, I would think of self control as a less important tool, but he showed me how importan
Oct 16, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
A book on mastering self control in children and adults, based on an earlier study done using children and explaining how we master our hot and cold emotions. My complaint is that far too much time was used in going over the study again and again, and then the children's responses. Far too little about adulthood and more examples of how behaviors can be set and overcome...or not.
Kevin Klarić
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't believe everything you hear and don't succumb to your own nature or nurture. You can become whatever you want to become, if you want to. The key is to find out what that is and stay mindful and in control of your own animal part, id, hot-system or whatever you want to call it. This book nicely outlines, how we can move from being slaves to ourselves to being something greater.
This is a great book if you aren't familiar with the area of executive function (self-control, etc.). I am so I didn't feel like I learned anything new but it was still fun. I think he makes a good case that we can literally never have to utter the words "nature vs. nurture" again because it's both, it's always both, and we know it's always both. So no more wondering. Mmmk everyone?
I skim read this because it was dull and repetitive. The content just doesn't suit a story-telling format. It would have been better as an extended article or even just left as a research paper.
Very repetitive at times, but not a useless read. It was interesting, but I knew some of the studies from other books so it wasn't very new for me either. Some might enjoy it more.
Tõnu Vahtra
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is probably the most cited test from the books that I have read during the past 3 years as almost every book about willpower, self-control cognitive psychology mentions it. There wasn't completely new factual information for me but some interesting angles and terms used for improving self-control (distractions, concentrating on the future).

“the ability to delay immediate gratification for the sake of future consequences is an acquirable cognitive skill.”

Our self-control depends on two syst
Kimber Martin
I think it would have packed a better punch it it was a bit shorter and to the point. There were interesting pieces of information, and cool case studies, but in my opinion it was far too long.

Main points from the book:

1. Some people are better than others to resist temptation and regulate painful emotions

2. These differences become visible as early as preschool age, and can predict outcomes over course of life

3. The traditional belief that willpower is an inborn trait that you have or don’t
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