Person praise vs. Process praise

The other day I ran across an interesting study about the effectiveness of person praise vs process praise. Here is a link to the study if you are interested in reading.

In a nutshell, the hypothesis was that children would perform better and would be willing to take on harder tasks if the feedback focused more on strategies and effort (process) vs trait (Person) related feedback.

Think, “Wow Sally! You did great on the exercise! I can tell that you are great person” vs. “Wow Sally! You did great on that exercise. The extra effort you did to study the process involved made a real difference in making you successful”

I have taught this for years at the Situation/Action/Result (SAR) model. Following this simple model while giving feedback is very effective.

Sally you knew the test was going to be a hard one didn’t you?
I really appreciate the way you took extra time to study
You got and A thanks to the extra effort!

An even better technique would be for Sally to tell you the SAR rather then providing it yourself.

This was a good reminder that not only should we praise our children but we should also give specific and detailed reasons behind the praise. How will they repeat the behavior if we do not make sure they know what it was?

This is also good advice for coaching employees BTW.