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We Are Better Together Than in Isolation

The "marshmallow test" is a classic research project that illustrates our lack of self-control and delayed gratification. For the study, the researcher would give a child a marshmallow, and tell them that they could eat the marshmallow OR they could wait until the researcher would return several minutes later, at which time they would get a second marshmallow. Videos abound on YouTube featuring kids, in successive versions of the original experiment, waiting, playing with, and sometimes eating the first marshmallow, forgoing their chances of a second marshmallow.

In January 2020, the results of a new version of the experiment were released. In this new version, kids were paired up, played a game together, and then were sent to a room and given a cookie with the promise of another if they could wait for it by not eating the first cookie. However, some of the kids were put in what researches called an "interdependent" situation in which they were told they would only get the second cookie if both they and their partner could wait and refrain from eating. The results showed that the kids who were depending on each other waited for the second cookie significantly more often.

According to researcher Rebecca Koomen, "In this study, children may have been motivated to delay gratification because they felt they shouldn't let their partner down, and that if they did, their partner would have had the right to hold them accountable."

Possible Preaching Angle:

This research suggests that indeed we are better together than we are in isolation.


Staff, “'Marshmallow test' redux: Children show better self-control when they depend on each other” ScienceDaily.com (1-14-20); Rebecca Koomen, Sebastian Grueneisen, Esther Herrmann. “Children Delay Gratification for Cooperative Ends,” Psychological Science (2020).

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