The effects of praise on children's intrinsic motivation: a review and synthesis

Psychol Bull. 2002 Sep;128(5):774-95. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.128.5.774.


The authors argue against a purely behavioral definition of praise as verbal reinforcement in favor of the view that praise may serve to undermine, enhance, or have no effect on children's intrinsic motivation, depending on a set of conceptual variables. Provided that praise is perceived as sincere, it is particularly beneficial to motivation when it encourages performance attributions to controllable causes, promotes autonomy, enhances competence without an overreliance on social comparisons, and conveys attainable standards and expectations. The motivational consequences of praise also can be moderated by characteristics of the recipient, such as age, gender, and culture. Methodological considerations, such as including appropriate control groups and measuring postfailure outcomes, are stressed, and directions for future research are highlighted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Culture
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Self Efficacy