A great site for learning the art of persuasion and influence. If we’re going to have a successful movement, winning hearts and minds is imperative. Here’s an excerpt regarding using praise with children:

The danger of praise

It is very easy to get praise wrong. Here are a few ways that praise can unexpectedly demotivate people.

Ability vs. effort

Mueller and Dweck (1998) gave 400 children a test and then told each that they had got 80% right. They then told half that this must be because they were intelligent and the other half it must be because they worked hard. They then offered them all a choice of an easy task or a hard task. 65% of those told they were clever chose the easy task, which was chosen by only 45% of those who were praised for effort.

In other words, those who had been praised for being clever subsequently avoided difficult tasks that might make them appear less intelligent. Interestingly also, more of those who had  been praised for effort chose the harder task as they now saw hard work as gaining desirable praise.

Further tests found that those praised for effort worked harder whilst those praised for intelligence worked less. If you tell a person they already have the ability do so something, you are also telling them that they do not need to work.

Gunderson et al (2013) observed praise of children an 14, 26, 38 months and then at five years. They found that those praised early for effort (‘process praise’), the more the five year olds saw intelligence and morality as malleable, with greater effort going to improving these.


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