Monday, June 06, 2011

Patty and the Marshmallow

A news story is making the rounds about old-time psychology experimenters putting a little kid in a room, sitting her down at a child-sized table, and leaving her there with one marshmallow on a plate. She is told she may eat the marshmallow immediately or wait. If she waits, she will receive another marshmallow later and end up with two. The children who deferred gratification at age 5 ended up as wealthier adults with better jobs than the immediately gratifying tots.

What would little Patty do??

The least likely scenario is she would sit quietly in the chair until the time was up and then receive the reward marshmallow, which she would eat now ("Thank you very kindly") and save the first for later. That alternative must at least be considered because occasionally Patty pretended to be good.

A different outcome seems more likely from the questions I consider while waiting: "What the f___ am I doing here? Who is making me do this? Did I sign on for it or something? Did anyone ask me if I even like marshmallows?

"Isn't there any other reward for this beyond another not very tasty bunch of spun sugar? Who is letting this be done? If I eat it now, do I get out of here sooner??"

Possible findings of experimenter upon return: marshmallow half-eaten. Marshmallow nibbled around edges. Marshmallow shinily sticky from being licked all over. Marshmallow placed under table so as to not be seen by subject. Marshmallow kneaded into the shape of a rabbit.

Actions debated: Eat it and have a tantrum. Have a tantrum but don't eat it. Stick marshmallow somewhere on or around body. Collect a second marshmallow and then refuse both when presented with "reward" marshmallow. Trample both! "THAT's what I think of your second marshmallow!"

Fears entertained: Someone might come grab this thing before I eat it! A bird in hand, didn't I hear that somewhere? Returning lady might find marshmallow pristine on plate but declare some other condition unmet, i.e., you had to keep hands in lap or something like that. I will learn I failed to measure up to some standard I was not aware of and I might lose both. Or worse, I might get spanked.

It's a very unreliable experimenting room for this precocious little girl.

Naturally, as she should have known, the whole thing was being filmed.

3 Comments:

Blogger Winifred said...

That is hilarious. I love it!

3:06 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

Thanks! As one of my FB friends pointed out, it would have been different for a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie!!

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved this. Gives me insight into that younger son of mine as well (he may take after you) :-)

A.

12:43 PM  

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