(Hat tip: Julie)
Even if you don’t have kids, this is a fascinating study and well worth reading. Not everyone is buying it, but the experiments are amazing. Here’s an excerpt from “How Not to Talk to Your Kids”.
Dweck had suspected that praise could backfire, but even she was surprised by the magnitude of the effect. â€œEmphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,â€ she explains. â€œThey come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the childâ€™s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.â€
In follow-up interviews, Dweck discovered that those who think that innate intelligence is the key to success begin to discount the importance of effort. I am smart, the kidsâ€™ reasoning goes; I donâ€™t need to put out effort. Expending effort becomes stigmatizedâ€”itâ€™s public proof that you canâ€™t cut it on your natural gifts.
Repeating her experiments, Dweck found this effect of praise on performance held true for students of every socioeconomic class. It hit both boys and girlsâ€”the very brightest girls especially (they collapsed the most following failure). Even preschoolers werenâ€™t immune to the inverse power of praise.