Paradoxical effects of praise
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In Western societies, parents and teachers often use praise in an attempt to increase children’s self-esteem and motivation. In fact, praise has become the most common type of feedback that children receive in their everyday lives, at least in many Western societies. However, there is a growing body of research showing that praise may sometimes have unintended consequences. Rather than increasing self-esteem and motivation, some forms of praise can make children concerned about upholding the positive evaluation they have received. In some cases, these concerns may lead children to avoid challenges, to give up or cheat when they struggle, or to feel bad about themselves in the face of setbacks. This lowered self-esteem and motivation may, in turn, encourage parents and teachers to provide even more praise, thus establishing a vicious cycle. We propose a transactional model to shed light on these paradoxical effects of praise, and we discuss research directions to validate the model.