what to do when you are given generic praise

Posted in Uncategorized by sarkology on May 23, 2010

According to Carol Dweck’s research, smart children given generic praise like “You are so smart.”, instead of praise for effort, end up less motivated and eventually performed less well. So the lesson we are supposed to learn from this is that we shouldn’t praise people for being smart, we should instead praise their effort.

Assuming you are any altruistic this is what you should in fact do. But don’t count on people to do this for you. You cannot expect people to praise you for the effort you put into achieving what you did. Expect them to praise your intelligence.

So it is up to YOU, to convert that praise into something more specific. So think: “Hmm, what made them think I was so smart? Was it anything specific I did? What did I do to become so good at doing that? Can I possibly improve it even more?”. Or even, “Did I really perform as well as they thought I did? Maybe they were paying too much attention to obvious but imperfect proxy indicators of ability, or spurious conventional signals of intelligence (e.g. unnecessarily complex vocabulary).”

Don’t let the praise of others sabotage your self-development. Take it into your own hands.


2 Responses

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  1. Michael Bishop said, on June 7, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Another great post. Somewhere on this blog you should say something about who you are and what you’re doing.

    • sarkology said, on June 7, 2010 at 9:52 pm

      Thanks. I took your advice, there is an about page now.

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