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What You Praise

From pages 135 and 136 of The Talent Code:

First, Dweck gave every child a test that consisted of fairly easy puzzles. Afterward, the researcher informed all of the children of their scores, adding a single six-word sentence of praise. Half of the kids were praised for their intelligence ("You must be smart at this."), and half were praised for their effort ("You must have worked really hard.").

The kids were tested a second time, but this time they were offered a choice between a harder test and an easier test. Ninety percent of the kids who'd been praised for their effort chose the harder test. A majority of the kids who'd been praised for their intelligence, on the other hand, chose the easy test. Why? "When we praise children for their intelligence," Dweck wrote, "we tell them that's the name of the game: look smart, don't risk making mistakes."

Eventually the students were given a few more tests, concluding with the final test - one of equal difficulty to the first. The "effort" students improved their score by 30% while the "intelligent" students did 20% worse.

I can think of at least two areas in which this might be applied - one is golf instruction. The other is with a certain very intelligent seven year-old.