Psychological Experiment : The Marshmallow Test Essay

801 Words May 9th, 2015 4 Pages
Back in the late 1960s, Walter Mischel, a Stanford University psychologist, conducted a psychological experiment known as the Marshmallow test. The experiment was conducted at the Stanford University nursery. He wanted to understand the concept of delayed gratification in a small child between the ages of 4 and 6. The idea was to create a situation for the child to choose between a small reward now and a large reward later, thus causing a conflict situation. They were deliberately placed in a room with no mental stimuli, which allowed them to see if the children could distract themselves from the reward. Even though many people refer to this experiment as the Marshmallow test, the child could choose other foods like a cookie or pretzels. In fact, the most often reward chosen by the child was a cookie. Some children danced, looked away from the food, touched the food, and some chewed on their clothes. There are several theories about motivation that may help to explain the child’s behavior.
One such theory of motivation that could explain the child’s behavior is the theory of Drive-reduction approaches to motivation. Drive can be described as a tension of behavior that causes you to fulfill a need. Therefore, the drive that the child needed to meet was one of hunger. In fact, one may call the pain of hunger a primary drive. Primary drives are the basic needs for a human to survive, which are hunger, thirst, sleep, and sex. There is a secondary drive that is a learned from…

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