Conceptions of ability and the interpretation of praise, blame, and material rewards
The authors assessed reactions to different levels of praise, blame, and reward received by two children who received the same test score among 79 students from the fourth, sixth, and eighth grades. Understanding of ability-as-capacity, that is, that higher effort implies lower ability when performance is constant, was also assessed. Being praised or rewarded and not being blamed led to lower ability evaluations among children who understood ability-as-capacity. Open-ended explanations indicated that children frequently believed that the usual or typical performance was lower for the praised, rewarded, or nonblamed children. These less favorable judgments often occurred without understanding ability-as-capacity. These findings suggest an alternate and less differentiated cognitive mechanism for the paradoxical effects of praise and blame. Older children showed an increasing preference to be like the nonpraised, nonrewarded, or blamed child. Implications for ego-involved motivation are discussed. © 1996 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
Miller, Arden T., and Harry L. Hom Jr. "Conceptions of ability and the interpretation of praise, blame, and material rewards." The Journal of experimental education 65, no. 2 (1996): 163-177.
Journal of Experimental Education