An article from New York Magazine outlines the results of surveys performed by Carol Dweck, a psychologist studying the effects of praise on students.
It’s somewhat a response to the 85% of American parents who think it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart.
Children were given tests and then praised either for their effort or their intelligence.
Dweck had suspected that praise could backfire, but even she was surprised by the magnitude of the effect. “Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,” she explains. “They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.”
How fundamental could this behavior be? For instance, in the workplace, does something as simple as referring to effort contributed instead of smarts improve results?