Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

Learning and Motivation

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Summarized from “How We Decide,” by Jonah Lehrer, 2009:

In the 1990’s, research was conducted on over 400 fifth grade students in a dozen NYC schools. Each student was given a very simple set of puzzles to solve, and then told (no matter what the outcome) one of two things: “You’re really smart at this,” or “I can see you worked very hard at this.”

Each student was then given the choice of working with a hard puzzle or an easy puzzle. 90% of the ones praised for their efforts took the hard puzzle; most of the ones praised for their success took the easy one.

Then each student was given a very difficult puzzle, and was told that it was a hard puzzle, but that they would learn a lot from working at it. Those who had been praised for their efforts worked long and hard at it, and most declared that it was the best puzzle so far. Most of those praised for their success gave up quickly.

Finally, each student was given the original puzzles to solve. Those who had been praised for their success suffered a 20% reduction in their performance.

This has implications for our secular and spiritual lives.

Do we seek success or struggle? Do we expect G!d to answer our prayers, or wrestle with us? Do we ask our colleagues to play it safe, or stretch themselves – and us?

To rephrase Ahnold: “Come with me, if you want to wrestle!”