…a growing body of research–and a new study from the trenches of the New York public-school system–strongly suggests it might be the other way around. Giving kids the label of “smart” does not prevent them from underperforming. It might actually be causing it.
It turns out you should praise them for their effort, not their intelligence. If you praise kids for their intelligence, they tend to avoid tasks they fear they will fail at. And get this:
Scholars from Reed College and Stanford reviewed over 150 praise studies. Their meta-analysis determined that praised students become risk-averse and lack perceived autonomy. The scholars found consistent correlations between a liberal use of praise and students’ “shorter task persistence, more eye-checking with the teacher, and inflected speech such that answers have the intonation of questions.” …image maintenance becomes their primary concern–they are more competitive and more interested in tearing others down. A raft of very alarming studies illustrate this.
That is, by the way, from New York magazine.