Laboratory research pioneered by psychologist Carol Dweck has shown the short-term benefits of praising children for their efforts rather than their inherent traits. Doing so leads children to adopt a so-called “incremental mindset” – seeing ability as malleable and challenges as an opportunity to learn.


Now a new study co-authored by Dweck and led by Elizabeth Gunderson has made the first ever attempt to monitor how parents praise their young children in real-life situations, and to see how their style of praise is related to the children’s mindset five years later.

The researchers observed and recorded 53 individual parents interacting with their children in the home for 90 minutes, whether playing, having a meal or whatever. They did this when the children were aged 14, 26 and 38 months. Five years later, the researchers caught up with the kids and asked them questions about their attitudes and mindset towards ability, challenges and moral goodness.


The key finding was the more parents tended to praise their pre-school age children for effort (known as process praise, as in “good job”), the more likely it was that those children had a “incremental attitude” towards intelligence and morality when they were aged seven to eight…

::: click here for this piece in full at BPS Research Blog :::