Harry Wolff

You can't escape my laugh.

Focus on Effort, Not on Smarts

March 7, 2012
Read time 1 minute

In a detailed article Jonah Lehrer discusses scientific studies that focus on how and why people learn the way they do.

In an experiment conducted with fifth graders:

Half of the kids were praised for their intelligence. “You must be smart at this,” the researcher said. The other students were praised for their effort: “You must have worked really hard.”

What do you think happened?

But it soon became clear that the type of compliment given to the fifth graders dramatically affected their choice of tests. When kids were praised for their effort, nearly 90 percent chose the harder set of puzzles. However, when kids were praised for their intelligence, most of them went for the easier test.

Why is that?

According to Dweck, praising kids for intelligence encourages them to “look” smart, which means that they shouldn’t risk making a mistake.

This verifies everything I've previously read and experienced.  Smarts help but it's the driving effort that truly matters.  You can be the smartest person alive, however if you don't take risks and stretch yourself you won't accomplish nearly as much.