Professor Carol Dweck conducted an experiment on about hundred over students who were mostly in their early adolescents. She gave each student a set of ten fairly difficult problems from a non-verbal IQ test. Most of them did pretty well and were showered with different kind of praises.
Almost half of the students were praised for his or her own ability, and it goes like: “Wow, you’ve got eight right. That’s a really good score. You must be smart at this.”
The other half were praised for their efforts: “Wow, you’ve got eight right. That’s a really good score. You must have worked really hard.”
This group of students was not made to feel special nor do they have an innate gift. They were praised solely based on hard work, and for doing what it takes to succeed.
Both groups were on similar settings and abilities to begin with, however, immediately after the praises were given, they began to differ when tasked to another round of test. All of them were offered to challenge themselves on a more difficult IQ test or on a simpler one. The students who were praised for their abilities have now developed a fixed mindset and rejected the more challenging IQ test. Simply put, they did not want to do anything that could expose their flaws and have them face questions about their talent.
In comparison to the students who were praised for hard work and effort, about 90 percent of them chose the most challenging task, which they did not perform well on. The first batch of students who were praised for their abilities now concluded that they were not so smart after all. If success had meant they were intelligent, then less than success meant they were deficient.
The hard working students, however, thought differently: “Just apply more effort.” They did not view it as a form of failure nor did they feel that it was a judgement on their intellect. They saw it as an opportunity to become smarter.
You may wonder about the students’ enjoyment of the test? After the initial success, everybody loved the test; after the more challenging test, the students who were praised for their abilities mentioned that it was not fun anymore. It cannot be fun when one’s special talent is in jeopardy.
The students who were praised for their efforts still loved the test, and many thought it was more fun. As this was an IQ test, one may conclude that by praising one on ability lowered one’s IQ, whereas praising one on effort raised it.
My point is, the experiment has shown that it is imperative for a child to understand that although talent is good to have, a hard working attitude and a growth mindset are must-haves. If one were to analyse the extremely successful people or even company, those groups hold the growth mindset to be in the continuous improvement of oneself or situation.
This article was referenced from Professor Carol Dweck’s book titled ‘Mindset.’ It talked about how one has two mindsets for different aspects of life, i.e. the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. It was said that if we were to implement a continuous effort to learn and upgrade and never stay stagnant, we have the potential to become great if we choose to be.
After having read this, I hope the Tutors and Parents will start praising their children based on their hard work and efforts!