The surprising thing the ‘marshmallow test’ reveals about kids in an instant-gratification world

Melissa Healy:

Here’s a psychological challenge for anyone over 30 who thinks “kids these days” can’t delay their personal gratification: Before you judge, wait a minute.

It turns out that a generation of Americans now working their way through middle school, high school and college are quite able to resist the prospect of an immediate reward in order to get a bigger one later. Not only that, they can wait a minute longer than their parents’ generation, and two minutes longer than their grandparents’ generation could.

It may not sound like much, but being able to hold out for an extra minute or two at a young age may serve them well in the long run. Research suggests that superior results on a delayed-gratification task during the toddler years is associated with better performance in school and in jobs, healthier relationships, and even fewer chronic diseases.