Developmental Stage

Publication Type

Results: Adult Behaviors

Praise for intelligence can undermine children’s motivation and performance
Mueller, Claudia M.Dweck, Carol S.
1998, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Researchers gave 128 fifth graders a set of math problems. All were told they did well, but some were told they did well because they “must be smart,” while others were told they “must have worked hard.” Still others were not praised at all. To inject a psychological hurdle and test for perseverance, the students were then given a second test and told they’d performed poorly. They were then asked whether they wanted to try again. The children initially praised for intelligence were significantly less interested in persisting than the others.