The Marshmallow Story

The impact of EQ skills starts young. This edition of the EQ Leader Coaching Blog reports a scientific study that is unusual in that it is heartwarming as well as powerful. This is a study that I always make sure to tell my EQ workshop and webinar audiences. 

A young blond child leaning on their crossed arms on a table, staring at a marshmallow.Look at this picture of a cute little kid, smiling and looking longingly at a marshmallow. 

In this study, a scientist brings a four-year-old into a room, barren except for a small table and two chairs. They chat for a bit. Then the scientist says, “I have to leave for a few minutes. Here’s a marshmallow. You can eat it while I’m gone. But if you wait to eat it until I return, I’ll give you a second marshmallow.”

The scientist then leaves. Some children gobble that marshmallow up as the door is closing. Others wait. They work at distracting themselves from the treat. There is nothing in the room to help them. Maybe they hum or walk around the room. But they get the second marshmallow because they wait for the scientist’s return.

(One little girl ate half the marshmallow. We believe she went on to become a lawyer!)

Twenty-four years later, the researchers compared the group of children who waited for the second marshmallow with the group of children who impulsively ateTwenty-four years later: SATs 219 points higher on average. Better jobs. Better relationships. the one. On average, those who had been able to wait for the scientist to return were found to have scored 219 points higher on their SATs, had better jobs, and better relationships than those who didn’t wait. 

Were those who waited just born smarter?  Not necessarily. The difference was that they had already begun to learn the EQ skill of Impulse Control. 

Fortunately, Impulse Control can be learned even in adulthood. Impulse Control can be particularly useful to those talented clients who may have a penchant for career limiting moves. The EQ Leader Program 2.0 has methods that coaches can use to help clients do just that. Please go to to learn more.

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