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Let Them Eat Marshmallows

Cameroonian kids were part of an experiment based on the classic "marshmallow test": Put a single treat before a child but tell the child if he or she waits, say, 10 minutes, a second treat will be given.

A 4-year-old kid is given a marshmallow and a choice: either eat the marshmallow in front of her, or wait a few minutes (after the adults leave the room) and be rewarded with a second marshmallow. If the child can successfully wait, she can expect a bright future — or at least a brighter future on average than if she had not waited.

The marshmallow experiment is one of the most famous studies in all the social sciences, its conclusions widely known. A new study looks at its results for a different, more diverse group of kids than were tested in the original, and arrives at some surprising conclusions.

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