Is Steem an Adult Version of the Marshmellow Test?

in busy •  last month  (edited)


Have you heard of the experiment Stanford conducted on The Power of Delayed Gratification?
If so you can skip ahead ..

For those of you who aren't familiar with the study, here is a condensed explanation. It's quite interesting and I tend to notice whether people have long term goals or short term goals.


The Marshmallow Experiment

The experiment began by bringing each child into a private room, sitting them down in a chair, and placing a marshmallow on the table in front of them.

The researcher told the child that he was going to leave the room and that if the child did not eat the marshmallow while he was away, then they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. However, if the child decided to eat the first one before the researcher came back, then they would not get a second marshmallow.

So the choice was simple: one treat right now or two treats later.

The researcher left the room for 15 minutes.

As you can imagine, the footage of the children waiting alone in the room was rather entertaining. Some kids jumped up and ate the first marshmallow as soon as the researcher closed the door. Others wiggled and bounced and scooted in their chairs as they tried to restrain themselves, but eventually gave in to temptation a few minutes later. And finally, a few of the children did manage to wait the entire time.

Published in 1972, this popular study became known as The Marshmallow Experiment, but it wasn't the treat that made it famous. The interesting part came years later.

The Power of Delayed Gratification

As the years rolled on and the children grew up, the researchers conducted follow up studies and tracked each child's progress in a number of areas. What they found was surprising.

The children who were willing to delay gratification and waited to receive the second marshmallow ended up having higher SAT scores, lower levels of substance abuse, lower likelihood of obesity, better responses to stress, better social skills as reported by their parents, and generally better scores in a range of other life measures. (You can see the followup studies

The researchers followed each child for more than 40 years and over and over again, the group who waited patiently for the second marshmallow succeed in whatever capacity they were measuring. In other words, this series of experiments proved that the ability to delay gratification was critical for success in life.

And if you look around, you’ll see this playing out everywhere…

If you delay the gratification of watching television and get your homework done now, then you’ll learn more and get better grades.
If you delay the gratification of buying desserts and chips at the store, then you’ll eat healthier when you get home.
If you delay the gratification of finishing your workout early and put in a few more reps, then you’ll be stronger.

Source and additional information

I often think of this experiment when I look around Steem, can you build an audience or do you just want quick rewards?

Will we build a strong community and allow a Steem Economy to develop? Or will we self vote ourselves into the Ponzi Scheme that Tone Vays predicts?

Can you hold your Steem in order to make more? Or do you send everything out as quickly as you get it?

I realize there are other explanations for various behaviors such as financial needs and goals, but I think there are many who obviously suffer from impulse control and just want to shove all the MarshMellows in their mouth as fast as they can.

More information on the study and a couple of cute videos of the kids! :)

This one is just cute:


How to work on delayed gratification

Let me know your thoughts, as a side note: I literally got interested in the topic of self control when I was in my early 20s, making bad choices and suffering all the results that come along with that behavior.

I actually worked on delayed gratification and other impulse control issues for years. I am still not fixed, but at least I have different challenges now. :)


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Delayed gratification? No such thing anymore, thank you Amazon.

They touch on the "nature vs. nurture" debate. For example, what if the kids who made the bad choices live in a households where bad choses are negated by parents who have no follow-through.

"Clean your room or else you won't get a treat."
"Oh, you didn't clean your room, but you just love this treat. You can have it anyway."

While I'm certain most kids benefit from parents who maintain consequences, I'm also certain you can't get through to some kids no matter how consistent the parents are. So as always, it's not explained strictly by "nature or nurture."

If Steem is just a scaled up version of the marshmellow test, what is the antecedent for those of us who want to protect our investment? I think the way to protect ourselves is to limit exposure and let the market price-in this behavior. It's been doing this very efficiently, so far.

They touch on the "nature vs. nurture" debate. For example, what if the kids who made the bad choices live in a households where bad choses are negated by parents who have no follow-through.

Yes, this is how my parents parented.

If Steem is just a scaled up version of the marshmellow test, what is the antecedent for those of us who want to protect our investment? I think the way to protect ourselves is to limit exposure and let the market price-in this behavior. It's been doing this very efficiently, so far.

Excellent point, I've been wondering for a long time.. "What will we do with those we can not control"... probably terrible language

I get your point about "Pricing it in". I hadn't thought about it in those terms before.


"Pricing it in" is a more specific implementation of "it's self-correcting." Where "it's self-correcting" could imply, among other things, that people will change their behavior. I'm not expecting people to change their behavior, but I am expecting that, over time, they filter out and shoot themselves in the foot, so to speak.

In the meantime, I am aware of the need to use external pressure to speed the process up. I'm not sure I buy the methods being proposed so far, but I understand the need.

  ·  last month Reveal Comment

I highly recommend checking out the Marshmellow challenge.

At first, I thought this was what you were talking about.

It's a team-building exercise that is a fantastic experience with kids and teams.

The Steemit team actually did the the Marshmallow 'build a tower, build a team' excercise at our last 'all hands' meeting (prior to getting to the actual 'business' stuff of course). It was quite interesting and a great team building exercise suggested by @elipowell

It really is a good experience, the best part is seeing the difference between how kids do it and adults.

  ·  last month Reveal Comment

Eating one marshmellow will make you happy i think. Also eating it while still fresh is better. May be they will give you more when they see you that much happy with marshmellow. May be they look for that you really love marshmellows.

Hope you are happy with and without marshmellows. 😊😅🙂🙃

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Yes, let's be happy.

watching these videos now i want to eat marshmallows. and i am trying to not eat sugar, so if i now go to look for a chocolate i blame you :D

If you delay the gratification of watching television and get your homework done now, then you’ll learn more and get better grades.
If you delay the gratification of buying desserts and chips at the store, then you’ll eat healthier when you get home.
If you delay the gratification of finishing your workout early and put in a few more reps, then you’ll be stronger.

i suck in all of these things, but i somehow managed to not sell any steem.

now my brain somehow connected this to another experiment done with heroin and rats (think it was heroin), more kids would probably not eat the marshmallow if they did not have to stare at it for 15 minutes.
maybe if steem was made more fun for all people would not sell right away.
short version of the experiment:

I just got around to watching that and I've read about that study before. While I dislike the wording of "It's important they have access to..."

It is a great message to all of us to build a lush cage, with friends family and fun!

this was just a quick search of the experiment. if i remember it correctly it was based on hospital medication and also on people in vietnam war. but in essence "good" environment less chance of drug abuse.

Whoops, with that example (the experimental story) you gave us a great lesson! Honestly I decided to hold everything and planning things long-term now! All short-term plans of mine already collapsed lol :D So better long-term and wish if I was at that room, I will eat that marshmellow just before the researcher entering to the room! This is how exactly I did at this crypto world before lol :D


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That's actually a brilliant comparison. As soon as I read the title it clicked. The question is who has the patience to wait for their second marshmallow. Right now we are looking around the room waiting to see what's happening and when the bull run is coming. Some are fidgeting and jumping up and down. Some dumped since Christmas at the low prices and no more for them.


we see this on all the time on Steem. The people who join, try a couple of posts and when they are not an instant success, off they go. Or the ones who join... post like crazy and interact with no one and then throw up their hands.

As @enginewitty has often said.. this is a marathon, not a sprint

Haha I so would have eaten the marshmallow.

I never saw Steemit as a short term kind of gig. It takes time to build a following and to network with others. I am sure that a few people have made fast money here but I am banking on this paying off down the road after I have established myself and earned enough Steem to have some influence around here.

I don't know what to think of it anymore.

I now consider it my crypto education. :)

Interesting thought experiment there... I think when it comes to votes I'm always looking for the hit, upvotes at 14 minutes (we all know we edge a bit) - 30 minutes was killer. That instant gratification.

On the flip side I've been holding my Steem and not pulling any out - so far... It was temping back when it was hitting 8 bucks.

The marshmallow test was definitely pretty interesting. You can almost hear the thoughts in those kids heads.

Yeah and I just watched a video... So cute. one little girl taking tiny bites. :)

Except with STEEM you can choose between
a marshmallow now, or
a quarter of a marshmallow 2 years from now.

Oh no! :) yeah... I can see how you would say that and it did make me laugh!

Why Rich Kids Are So Good at the Marshmallow Test
Affluence—not willpower—seems to be what’s behind some kids' capacity to delay gratification.

I always thought this was interesting about the marshmallow test and it actually seems to hold true about Steem as well.

  ·  last month (edited)

It seems to me that people who are weathy know how to manage money and life and would pass those skills down to their kids.

I get there could be a social-economic factor, but there is also a social-economic factor in life skills.

I know, no one will want to hear that in this day and age...

  ·  last month (edited)

(You can see the followup studies here, here, and here.)

forgot to link? i mean most will probably not click it as we all trust you but :D

  ·  last month (edited)

Oh good point... I'll grab them. The are in the source document at the bottom, but it is confusing. Thanks!

not that important, just noticed that you wanted to do it but missed in the end.

We can post a marshmallow pic and self upvote.

That's like the kid stealing the whole bag - every week.

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But I bet some of those early eaters who waited for nothing are successful too, you know the early bird gets the worm.

Maybe a few of them... but the study results were that those who waited out performed the other group in every way they could think of to measure over years and years ....

This is a perfect way of putting it. The beauty about the programming is that all of the 2 marshmallow people will end up with most of the stake over the long term and act as the stewards that will keep things on track and looking good. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be armies of low stake robots and scammers trying to mine fractions of pennies still... but the high rewards will go to those that care.

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Explains plenty for me! I would do homework on the bus from school just to get it done and to this day focus on checking this off my to do list on daily basis. I even eat the foods I like the least first on my plate to enjoy those I like the most. Thanks for sharing!

Nice! :) I had to train myself. It was hard, and sometimes still doesn't come naturally.

  ·  last month (edited)

So your saying that 95% of the population act and behave like children? 😂🤣

haha, more like... a huge percentage of people have impulse control problems.

This is the kind of experiments that have so many variables that the outcome is hard to calculate. For example, if you could put one kid from every generation the results would be different and wouldn't determine anything good or wrong regarding the kids or their decisions, but would only give you details about the environment they were in and also the scarcity of food and education facing that situation.

Imagine having a kid that lived and grew up on WW1 or WW2 without knowing if they would have food for the next day. Now put him near a generation Z from our days when food is not a concern in developed countries.

The choice they would make would be totally different. Independently of the results, no one would be right or wrong. Different environments will always have different outcomes and more than questioning that or try everything to isolate all the possible variables. We should embrace all that randomness that makes humans so distinct and unique.

  ·  last month (edited)

We should teach people how to develop skills. My opinion.

If you read the study these were not starving kids.

No where did I say those kids were bad kids. They just were lacking a skill set. It is a skill set I also grew up lacking. Although I am at peace with my past, I do wish someone would have recognized that was important and taught me those things.

If I born in a hunter tribe I sure hope someone would have taught me how to hunt.

I agree with you. Usually, that is a hard topic since is not convenient to have many people asking questions or trying to make a change. Governments, for example, praise for poor education for that same reason. To make people knowledge and skills limited to better control outcomes to their favor and don't have so much fight back from society.

When I gave the example of ww children alongside the new generation in the same room. It would be another different kind of experience and not focus on this one. Since it would deal with other important questions as well.

The good thing about this experience, in particular, is that from the beginning the kids know there is no wrong or right decision. So they have free will. The battle is much more in terms of 'instant gratification' (a very present issue in our society nowadays) or bet in the long run strategy.

I think in a hunter tribe they would teach you, but the positive is that even if you didn't fit for that task you wouldn't be put aside for that. They usually would try to find out what are you good at to also contribute to the tribe with those skills. How good is a hunter tribe if no one knows how to make a good or sharper tool? Strategy and gather food for long winters... Everyone has a place in the tribe and sometimes what makes you different from the rest can be the best weapon to thrive in those situations.

I agree as well. No one suggested putting anyone aside.

I think the point is that those who can delay gratification report better results among many different measures. We should accept that and teach these skills.

Some girls who don't know how to control emotions get pregnant. Boys that don't know how get girls pregnant or worse.

They drink too much, spend too much, call in sick for work, fail classes.

I'm using extreme examples, while I don't want to kick these people out of society, I want to find them and try to teach them.

No Self Control is a song by Peter Gabriel. Live version is better IMO.

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It's a good analogy. There are lots of people trying to grab what they can from Steem with no concerns for its future. I've always wanted to see it achieve the potential to help many people around the world who struggle to get by rather than just adding to the riches of those who are doing okay anyway. Short term greed could destroy that dream.

"Don't eat this marshmellow, and maybe, some day, you will get a second marshmellow, or you will get none at all" is a closer analogy of Steem.

I like these experiments
they show the human nature and how it changes when he grows up

Agreed too many self cannibalizing lunatics over here.

I am still not fixed, but at least I have different challenges now.

I quite like this sentence. Reading the context implies that you intend to fix yourself which I agree is the best way to get fixed. However if this sentence internalized the message of self fixing, it would be a timeless quote worthy of a chain email or the venerable 'share to steem'

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oh no! loling over the "Sentence".

If more people sentenced themselves to fixing themselves we would all be a bunch of poorly patched up freaks. I don't think most can do that.

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What do you have against patched up freaks??????????

Nothing as long as they stay away from my marshmallow.
Have you ever considered that I just didn't want two marshmallows and therefore saw no point in waiting 15min?

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Excellent point.


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What STEEM really needs is more use cases and more users. The average person doesnt stick around and the platform is simply too complicated for most people to understand right away.

If they could create some sort of STEEM casino then we could lock up more of the supply and give it more use cases.

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Interesting and proves that if you don't let your emotions get the best of you you make better choices. This goes for just about everything in life in particular investing.

  ·  last month Reveal Comment

What a great lesson for your daughter. I love it.


Lucky girl with an active parent helping her to learn how to make great decisions.

  ·  last month Reveal Comment