January 24, 2008

Trait praise and low self-esteem ctd

Yesterday I posted about an idea that was sent to me about the possibility that trait praise might be useful in a special circumstance, namely when a child has low self esteem. Here is what I think.
It seems to me, to be a sensible hypothesis. Evidence could show whether it works or not. This COULD be a special case in which it indeed might be useful. BUT ... I'd predict that, even here, process feedback would work better. In the end I am convinced that it is an empirical matter. The interesting thing of Carol Dweck's research is that she did not only look at the right-there-and-then response which is enthusiast with whatever type of praise but that she also looked at later behavior.
I am skeptical about the the idea that you first have to increase self-esteem in order to improve well-being and performance. The theory is convincing but the evidence seems to say it does not work that way. My prediction is: process feedback will work best even with people with low self esteem. It will help them find hope and ideas to move on. It leads to a different kind of enthusiasm ("This works!" instead of "I'm great").

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