Researchers just re-created a 50-year-old childhood study with a fascinating twist.

You might have heard of the Stanford prison experiment. But have you heard of the Stanford marshmallow experiment?

The marshmallow experiment was a fascinating study conducted by researchers in the late 1960s and early '70s to test kids' ability to delay gratification.

3- to 5-year-old kids were placed in a room with a marshmallow or other treat in front of them and told that, yes, they could eat it if they wanted. But if they could just wait 15 minutes or so, they could have a second marshmallow or a larger treat.


Dramatization. Photo via iStock.

In the original study, a little less than half of the kids were able to hold out for the bigger reward. Follow-up studies done on these children found that the ability to delay gratification was correlated with better test scores, jobs, and overall success later in life.

Now, 50-some years later, researchers have re-created the famous marshmallow experiment — with one interesting twist.

The new study out of University of Osnabrück in Germany presented a similar test to two separate groups of 4-year-old kids: one group of Westernized children, from Germany, and another group from Cameroon (their people are known as the Nso).

The researchers knew that parenting styles in the two places were vastly different and wanted to see what effect that had on self-regulation and emotions.

What they found surprised them, even though the researchers were already well versed in the cultural differences.

The Nso children were far more able to delay their gratification. Not only that, it seemed to be easy for them.

The German kids performed about as well as the ones in the original 1960s study — in other words, under half of them "passed." On the other hand, about 70% of the Nso children held out for the second treat.

For many of them, it seemed to be no sweat.

Lead researcher Bettina Lamm writes in an email: "In German kids you can virtually see how they fought the temptation, when they were moving around, talking or singing to themselves, playing with parts of their body or even with the sweet. Nso kids just sat there and wait, they do not show much motor activity and hardly show any emotions, and some of them even fell asleep."

Waiting for an extra marshmallow turned out to be a piece of cake.

Cameroonian parenting is known to be more strict than in the Western world. That may help explain the difference, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

"Nso children are required very early to control their emotions, especially negative emotions," Lamm told NPR. "Moms tell their children that they don't expect them to cry and that they really want them to learn to control their emotions."

The Nso kids aren't generally encouraged to make their needs and desires known, she said. They're raised to trust that mom will give them everything they need when they need it.

(This could also be a factor in the study's results: How much do the kids trust that the researcher will actually bring them the second marshmallow?)

Does that mean parents everywhere should start cracking down and getting tough? Not so fast.

"Raising Western children in the Nso manner would not work," Lamm stresses. "Maybe, it would support the development of self-regulation (which we do not know for sure, because of the different environment), but we can be sure that children raised that way in the Western context would lack several competencies that are very important in the Western world (e.g. autonomy and uniqueness)."

If there's a takeaway here for Western parents, it's this: Teaching our kids a little self-control is a great thing, but it's not the only skill that matters in our world.

In other words, it's not the end of the world if your kid just wants to eat the damn marshmallow.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

Terence Power / TikTok

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It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

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