Praising People Could Be Encouraging Them To Cheat

Cheat Test Exam

Photo: Mr. Bean Videos

Some seemingly innocent organizational practices, like praising people for success, are likely to not only reduce performance and increase cheating but also make people less adaptive at work.The good news is that a few simple changes can effect a tremendous shift. Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford, presented this study at the first day of the 2011 NeuroLeadership summit in San Francisco.

One study primed people with a simple phrase praising their intelligence based on completing a difficult task rather than the effort they put in to achieving the task by saying “You’re so smart,” versus “You must have worked hard.” This simple statement had the “smart” ones less willing to take learning risks in the future, as well protecting their status by lying. In fact, those praised for intelligence were found to be three times more likely to lie about their performance than those praised for effort — even when they knew their names wouldn’t show up on the forms, they overstated their scores.

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