Kids and CEO's fail the marshmallow test

You may have seen this little test before, I cannot recall if I posted it or not.  If you have seen it then feel free to move along the post.  If not, take the three minutes.

So I laugh at this as I watch the kids struggle with the "choice" in part because it is a silly choice, but mostly because I see this as a rather easy choice.  Logically it makes sense and is almost a 'no brainer' to just wait for that second marshmallow.  You double your marshmallowly-goodness.  

Any grown person would know this to be the case.  I laugh because I think that this test would not "work" on adults.  Adults would wait.  Adults are rational.  Adults understand the significant increase of marshmallow by waiting just a bit.  

And then this little gem comes into my world and I am flabbergasted.  Essentially someone created a marshmallow test for adults.  And not just any adults.  The adults who are calling the shots at some of the largest companies in the world.  And guess what?  They were not interested in more marshmallowly-goodness.  

At least they were not willing to wait for it.  

As reported by GOOD in this post the researchers, "found that the majority of FTSE-100 and 250 executives (those running the largest companies in the world) would choose an investment with a low return option if they could get it sooner (£250,000, or about $390,000, tomorrow) rather than waiting for a high return later (£450,000, or about $706,320, in three years). That means that your investment advisor might give up £200,000 of profit if they had to wait three years to get it."

The researchers called this "short-termism".  

So while I laugh at the kids who struggle with what seems to be a no-brainer of a question, I am humbled by the fact that even sophisticated, educated, developed, and highly evolved human adults (read: people like you and me) are all tempted at that one marshmallow even with the promise of two in a little while.  

For more reading on self-control, delayed gratification and short-termism - this 2009 New Yorker article is great.  

For a final treat, check out how well these dogs are trained at delaying their gratification.