The famed psychologist Walter Mischel stopped by The Colbert Report last night to talk about his new book, The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control. You’ve heard of the marshmallow test. There are variations, but basically: You stick a kid alone in a room, give her a marshmallow, and then leave her alone with it. If she manages not to eat it before the researcher comes back, she can have not only that one, but a bonus marshmallow, too.
It’s psychological torture for 3-year-olds, in other words, but many of them withstand the wait, and follow up studies have shown that the longer the kids waited, the more successful their lives turned out to be when they grew up. (Though, recently, some researchers have questioned the test’s future-predicting powers.)
Stephen Colbert, of course, immediately fails his marshmallow test. Watch the clip, and you can also read an excerpt of Mischel’s brand-new book right here on Science of Us. As for Mischel? The inventor of the marshmallow test admitted to Colbert that he doesn’t even care for marshmallows.