“What we’re really measuring with the marshmallows isn’t will power or self-control,” Mischel says. “It’s much more important than that. This task forces kids to find a way to make the situation work for them. They want the second marshmallow, but how can they get it? We can’t control the world, but we can control how we think about it.”
My first thought (before I even read the New Yorker article and found this statement) was, 'What if someone only wanted one marshmallow?' Did they screen these kids to see if they wanted two and hoped to do what they had to to achieve two?
Also, had all the kids eaten within the same time period? Could some of them have been hungrier than others?
I wish they'd have shown what those twins ended up doing in the video. They, in this study, reminded me so much of my younger sister and I who looked like twins, but had totally opposite temperaments. If someone gave both of us two cookies, I'd have eaten both of mine and asked for one of hers while she was still chewing her first bite of the first one. Interestingly enough though - we received almost identical grades in school and our SAT scores were within ten points of each other's. I became a teacher and she became a school social worker.
I wouldn't do this experiment on my kids. I think it'd set them up for unrealistic expectations- and anyway is wanting more of something always better than wanting something now? I can see pros and cons in either or both of those inherent attitudes.