For example, studies showed that a child’s ability to delay eating the first treat predicted higher SAT scores and a lower body mass index (BMI) 30 years after their initial Marshmallow Test.
Researchers discovered that parents of “high delayers” even reported that they were more competent than “instant gratifiers”—without ever knowing whether their child had gobbled the first marshmallow.
However, diversity in this context encompasses much more than the usual parameters of race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
Any aspect of your character or past that could be classified as unique in some way—perhaps you spent time volunteering in the developing world, or diligently overcame an obstacle that facilitated a unique perspective, or possess a special talent that one does not encounter every day—can be compelling fodder for this kind of essay.
And when I mentioned to friends that I was interviewing the Marshmallow Man about his new book, It began in the early 1960s at Stanford University’s Bing Nursery School, where Mischel and his graduate students gave children the choice between one reward (like a marshmallow, pretzel, or mint) they could eat immediately, and a larger reward (two marshmallows) for which they would have to wait alone, for up to 20 minutes.
Years later, Mischel and his team followed up with the Bing preschoolers and found that children who had waited for the second marshmallow generally fared better in life.
This essay is an opportunity to convey a vibrant, sincere impression of your personality to the admissions reader.
Note that a diversity essay is usually shorter than a personal statement would be.
But there’s been criticism of Mischel’s findings too—that his samples are too small or homogenous to support sweeping scientific conclusions and that the Marshmallow Test actually measures trust in authority, not what he says his grandmother called the ability to sit in a seat and reach a goal, despite obstacles.
I met with Mischel in his Upper West Side home, where we discussed what the Marshmallow Test really captures, how schools can use his work to help problem students, why men like Tiger Woods and President Bill Clinton may have suffered “willpower fatigue”—and whether I should be concerned that my five-year old devoured “the marshmallow” (in his case, a small chocolate cupcake) in 30 seconds.