Free Essay Example on Decision Making

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1172 Words
Date:  2024-01-11


Delayed gratification is associated with the process of resisting the urge of immediate reward for a potentially better prize later. Often, a person is faced with is two options in any given situation: to avoid pain at the moment or to delay pleasure for a larger reward later. When faced with these two conflicting options, it is easier to seek temporary solutions that ease the pain and provide gratification. Most people have difficulty exercising patience during trying times or sacrificing immediate pleasure to work towards a goal. Numerous research studies have examined the Marshmallow test, a classical experiment on delayed gratification. A vast body of literature has associated the ability to defer gratification to various positive outcomes, including physical health, psychological health, and academic success. This paper aims to discuss why delayed gratification in the Marshmallow test is a recipe for success.

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Significance of Delayed Gratification

The Marshmallow test describes a self-imposed task of delayed gratification pioneered in the 1960s by Walter Mischel. He conducted a long series of marshmallow-related experiments to assess children's ability to exercise self-control and inhibit temporary impulses of pleasure to get a desired reward later. The Marshmallow test provides important insights into the decision-making ability of children in situations of often conflicting desires and motivations. In the Marshmallow experiments, children were provided with two choices: to eat one marshmallow in the present moment or wait and have two marshmallows treats later. The results of the experiment reflect the typical reaction of most children as they tried hard to restrain themselves but were unable to wait for the whole time (Cohen). Those who managed to wait for the entire duration of the experiment were rewarded with a second marshmallow. The series of tests went as far as conducting follow-up experiments to track the children's progress later on in life. Interestingly, the children who could wait the whole time to receive a second marshmallow treat ended up with better scores in a wide range of life measures (Cohen). Ultimately, the series of Marshmallow experiments proved the willingness to delay gratification was a key factor for success.

The ability to postpone pleasure and control impulses is not an easy trait to acquire since it involves experiencing feelings of dissatisfaction at the moment. This can be challenging and seemingly impossible for many people who easily fall into temptations and seek immediate satisfaction. Since infancy, the brain system has been wired to seek pleasure, and it seems as if it is a crucial component of survival. According to Freud, pleasure is the most basic principle that drives our desire to satisfy psychological and biological needs (Cohen). The desire for instant gratification inhibits people from thinking ahead to view the greater purpose. However, in order to live a purposeful life, it is critical to learn to delay gratification and to tolerate the discomfort that is associated with waiting for better rewards later. Life is challenging, and it is common to always not get gratified, but we must develop the trait of self-control, discipline, and hard work in order to achieve lifetime goals and fulfill responsibilities.

Delayed gratification is often a recipe for success. Successful people share an effective personal trait of having the ability and willingness to delay gratification. People who succeed in their careers, finances, relationships, and health have learned the art of inhibiting pleasure and managing the urge to satisfy their needs in the present moment. As adults, we are faced with numerous challenging situations where our decision-making abilities are put to the test. However, having the ability and willingness to wait can be a helpful attribute that helps us to decide on situations that do not call for urgent gratification. In such a moment, delayed gratification can help us develop tolerance and take actions that are only aligned with the greater purpose. We must save for future investments and choose a healthy and sustainable lifestyle now because, in the long-term, delayed gratification yields massive returns that would allow us to comfortably enjoy a healthy lifestyle and financial freedom.

Counter Argument

The marshmallow test has been reviewed as a classical study that experiments the correlation between the ability to defer gratification and success in life. However, recent studies have cast aspersions on the decisiveness of the marshmallow test. According to results from a recent study, the marshmallow test is not a decisive measure of children's willpower because it does not consider background factors such as early cognitive ability, home environment, and socioeconomic status (Solly). The new study conducted by Tyler Watts of the University of New York and Greg Duncan and Haonan Quan, both from the University of California, is ideally a modified version of the original marshmallow test pioneered by Walter Mischel. The researchers widened the sample size to include diverse participants from different social backgrounds, income status, education levels, and ethnicity. The results of the study were analyzed while taking into account background factors. The standardized results showed an insignificant meaningful correlation between a child's willpower to delay gratification and success later in life.

Social and economic background plays a critical role in shaping the odds for long-term success. Amongst the participants of the new study, children from affluent households showed a higher willingness to wait and receive a second marshmallow treat than their counterparts from poor households (Solly). The study hints that participants from lower socioeconomic backgrounds were unable to wait for the entire test duration. The researchers observed that children from poor households are not accustomed to many guarantees in their daily life, and so for them, there is an inherent risk that is associated with waiting. Therefore, they are more attuned to seek immediate satisfaction rather than wait for unguaranteed rewards later. Moreover, even if the children could wait longer for the second marshmallow treat, their sheer willpower would not necessarily translate to success as their economic disadvantage may limit their chances of excelling in the long-term. Children from a privileged background are more likely to achieve success in numerous life measures as a result of their economic advantage rather than their sheer willpower.


The principle of delayed gratification is a key factor in the decision-making process. It is a common prevalence to make life choices with the objective of avoiding pain or seeking pleasure at the moment. In doing so, a person foregoes delayed gratification, which might provide for real and enduring solutions to present problems. It is important to note that instant gratification and pleasure do not equal true happiness. To achieve true happiness, a person must develop sustainable habits and a lifestyle that enables an individual to move closer towards realizing their greatest potential. Developing the trait of delayed gratification entails putting in the discipline, patience, and time required to achieve a greater purpose, which instead yields true happiness.

Works Cited

Cohen, Ilene S. "The Benefits of Delaying Gratification." Psychology Today, 26 Dec 2017,

Solly, Meilan. "Why Delayed Gratification in the Marshmallow Test Doesn't Equal Success." Smithsonian Magazine, 5 June 2018,

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