The Marshmallow Test Book Summary - The Marshmallow Test Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

The Marshmallow Test summary

Walter Mischel

Mastering Self-Control

4.5 (85 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

The Marshmallow Test by Walter Mischel explores how self-control affects our success in life. Through research findings, Mischel provides strategies for developing self-control in individuals and society for overall well-being.

Table of Contents

    The Marshmallow Test
    Summary of 8 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 8

    The “marshmallow test” was developed to understand how children control their urges.

    Have you ever teased a young child by offering her a treat, then saying she can’t eat it right away?

    If not, that’s alright, because scientists have done it for you in a clinical test! It was called the Marshmallow Test, and it provided us with some interesting insights on human behavior:

    For the test, children were first allowed to choose their favorite treat. A researcher would tell the child they could either have the treat now, or have two later after the researcher had left and come back. Then the researcher left the room, but told the child they could call them back if they couldn’t wait any longer. The child was then left alone with the treat on a tray in front of them.

    Researchers secretly watched the children to see how they would handle the situation. Naturally, some children ate the treat right away. Others waited a bit, then ate it. Some children, however, managed to resist the treat, and they all used the same strategy to do so. The children who successfully resisted eating their treats managed it by distracting themselves from it.

    They used different strategies for this. Some sang songs, and others tilted and played with their chairs.

    The kids came up with those strategies themselves, but then the experimenters tried teaching the children distraction techniques beforehand. This turned out to help the children a great deal.

    Before the test, researchers taught the children if-then plans. For example, if my hand moves towards the treat, then I will start singing a song. When the children reminded themselves of what they were doing each time they went for the treat, they found it easier to wait.

    The Marshmallow Test seems simple, but it actually has profound implications, as you’ll see in the following blinks.

    Want to see all full key ideas from The Marshmallow Test?

    Key ideas in The Marshmallow Test

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Marshmallow Test about?

    The Marshmallow Test explains why being able to delay gratification and exercise our self-control is essential for living a successful life. Using insights gained from several psychological studies, it explains how exactly our self-control skills function, and what we can do to improve them.

    The Marshmallow Test Review

    The Marshmallow Test (2014) by Walter Mischel offers a fascinating exploration of self-control and its impact on our lives. Here's why this book is definitely worth a read:

    • Through compelling research findings and personal stories, the book sheds light on the power of delayed gratification and how it can shape our future success.
    • Mischel's extensive studies and experiments provide insightful revelations about human behavior and the factors that influence our ability to resist temptation.
    • With its engaging narrative and thought-provoking insights, the book captivates readers, ensuring an enjoyable and enlightening reading experience.

    Best quote from The Marshmallow Test

    The power resides in the prefrontal cortex, which, if activated, allows almost endless ways of cooling hot, tempting stimuli by changing how they are appraised.

    —Walter Mischel
    example alt text

    Who should read The Marshmallow Test?

    • Anyone who wants to improve his or her self-control
    • Anyone interested in psychology
    • Anyone hoping to help children develop good self-control skills, especially parents

    About the Author

    Walter Mischel is a renowned psychologist and writer. He invented the “marshmallow test” when studying child psychology in the 1960s, and he was educated at New York University, City College of New York and Ohio State University.

    Categories with The Marshmallow Test

    Book summaries like The Marshmallow Test

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    32 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,500+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    The Marshmallow Test FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Marshmallow Test?

    The main message of The Marshmallow Test is understanding the importance of self-control and its impact on future success.

    How long does it take to read The Marshmallow Test?

    The reading time for The Marshmallow Test varies, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Marshmallow Test a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Marshmallow Test is worth reading as it provides valuable insights into self-control and its influence on our lives.

    Who is the author of The Marshmallow Test?

    The author of The Marshmallow Test is Walter Mischel.

    What to read after The Marshmallow Test?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Marshmallow Test, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney
    • Carrots and Sticks by Ian Ayres
    • The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal
    • The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner
    • 12 Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson
    • The Hunger Habit by Judson Brewer
    • The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
    • Insight by Tasha Eurich
    • The 48 Laws of Power (new version) by Robert Greene
    • The Wealth Money Can't Buy by Robin Sharma