Helping Your Kids: It’s Not How Much You Praise, But How

2 March 2007 at 3:38 pm 1 comment

| Peter Klein |

Direct evidence against the Alfie Kohn approach to child-rearing (and, of course, incentive compensation more generally): Praising kids for who they are (e.g., telling them they’re smart) may actually reduce their performance in school, while praising them for what they do (hard work, diligence, effort) makes them perform better. Here’s the link, courtesy of Joshua Gans.

(Apologies to Mike Jensen and Kevin Murphy for my title.)

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Management Theory, Theory of the Firm.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Richard O. Hammer  |  5 March 2007 at 1:06 pm

    There are differences between the sexes in how people like to be praised. If you want to make a man or boy feel better, praise what he does. If you want to make a woman or girl feel better, praise what she is. So I wonder if the researchers tabulated results along sex lines. (I have not gone on to read the background articles linked here, but respond only to Peter’s introduction.)

    I believe this difference between the sexes is well established. But note that it derives from group averages. Specific individuals may differ from their group.

    Frank Sinatra reviewed this sexual dichotomy succinctly — two and one half times — when he said “do-be-do-be-do”.

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