Is no praise good praise? Effects of positive feedback on children's and university students’ responses to subsequent failures

Yvonne Skipper, Karen Douglas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. According to Dweck and colleagues, praise can be delivered using person (‘you are clever') or process terms (‘you worked hard'). Research suggests that giving people process praise after success can help them deal better with subsequent failures because it attributes outcomes to effort rather than fixed ability. However, research has thus far inadequately addressed how these types of praise compare to receiving no evaluative feedback.

Aim. The aim of the present research was to examine the effects of person and process praise compared to a control group where only objective outcome feedback was given.

Samples. In Study 1, 145 British school children aged 9–11 years took part. In Study 2, participants were 114 British university students.

Method. In both studies, participants read three scenarios and were asked to imagine themselves as the main character. In each scenario, they succeeded in an educational task and received either person, process, or no praise. Participants then read two scenarios, where they failed at a task. Following each scenario participants evaluated their performance, affect, and persistence.

Results. After one failure, participants who received person praise reacted most negatively on all dependent measures. However, those in the process condition did not differ significantly from those in the control group.

Conclusions. These findings suggest that process feedback may not be inherently positive; instead person feedback seems particularly detrimental.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Early online date8 Apr 2011
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Apr 2011

Cite this