Mr. Bronson highlights a study of 400 fifth-graders conducted by psychologist Carol Dweck and a team at Columbia University in which the children took three tests. The second test purposely was made difficult enough that every child failed. What the scientists found was that kids who had been praised for their effort recovered from that failure by the third test to achieve scores 30% higher than on their first test. Meanwhile, the students who were praised for their intelligence had scores that were 20% lower. Ms. Dweck’s conclusion: You should praise children for qualities they can control, like effort. Those praised for their innate brainpower might develop the sense that hard work isn’t necessary.
The Scouting magazine article took a different angle in describing the tests. I would link the article but apparently the print issue is out faster than the articles hit the 'net:
The first test was simple, and all the students did well. Afterward, half the student received person praise ("You must be smart at this."), while half received process praise ("You must have worked really hard.").
Those simple words made a world of difference in subsequent rounds. When students got to pick between easy and hard tests, most of the person-praise group picked an easy test, but 90 percent of the process-praise group picked a hard one. Moreover, the process-praise group enjoyed the harder tests, while the person-praise group worried that failure would make them look less smart.
I found the information interesting as a parent and as someone who works with the youth. One of the scientists conducting the study states in summary -
"Person praise gives you no recipe for facing challenges or recovering from setbacks," Dweck said. "Process praise is about what you do to be successful, so it's informative."
This appears to be an approach worth trying.