iD magazine - - Body & Mind -

Par­ents can’t praise their chil­dren too much, and the same goes for bosses and their em­ploy­ees— this mo­ti­va­tion myth persists to this day. How­ever, the fact is: Ex­ces­sive praise can cause last­ing harm to our mo­ti­va­tion or de­stroy it al­to­gether. A study con­ducted by Uni­ver­sity of Toronto psy­chol­o­gist Joan Grusec has shown that chil­dren who were praised for sharing were ac­tu­ally less gen­er­ous than oth­ers in ev­ery­day life. The expert ex­pla­na­tion: The praised be­hav­ior was no longer con­sid­ered valu­able, merely some­thing that is done to elicit the de­sired re­ac­tion from adults. Many re­searchers are now con­vinced that gen­er­a­tions of par­ents have reared their chil­dren in­cor­rectly due to this mo­ti­va­tion lie. Rea­son: Through con­stant praise it’s pos­si­ble to cre­ate a mo­ti­va­tion junkie. The same holds true for adults. “Praise works like a drug. The more often you use it, the higher the dose must be to pro­duce an ef­fect,” ex­plains St­ef­fen Kirch­ner. Re­searchers don’t ad­vise against praise en­tirely, but they sug­gest us­ing it in a more tar­geted, per­sonal, and gen­uine way so it can ac­tu­ally be a mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor.

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