Archive | Development RSS feed for this section

Does praising children for being smart promotes cheating?

22 Sep

So says this paper just published in Psychological Science:

Praise is one of the most commonly used forms of reward. It is convenient, is nearly effortless, and makes the recipient feel good. However, praising children for being smart carries unintended consequences: It can undermine their achievement motivation in a way that praising their effort or performance does not (Cimpian, Arce, Markman, & Dweck, 2007; Kamins & Dweck, 1999; Mueller & Dweck, 1998; see Dweck, 2007). In this study, we investigated whether the negative consequences of praising children for being smart extend to the moral domain, by encouraging cheating.

There is some prior work suggesting that evaluative feedback can influence children’s moral behaviors (Fu, Heyman, Qian, Guo, & Lee, 2016; Mueller & Dweck, 1998; Zhao, Heyman, Chen, & Lee, 2017). Telling 5-year-olds (but not younger children) that they have a reputation for being good leads to a reduction in their cheating, presumably because they are interested in maintaining this reputation (Fu et al., 2016). We propose that telling children that they are smart, a form of ability praise, may have the opposite effect by motivating them to cheat to appear smarter. In a study consistent with this possibility, Mueller and Dweck (1998) found that 10-year-olds exaggerated how well they had performed after receiving ability praise. However, little is known about whether ability praise can influence young children’s moral behavior. The present research addressed this question by comparing the effects of ability and performance praise on preschool children’s cheating.

Do your siblings lower your IQ?

7 Jun

As the number of siblings increases, the fraction of parental resources received by each one declines. Thus, it has been suggested that larger sib size should be associated with lower IQ and lower school performance. A recent paper in the journal Intelligence looked at the evidence. Here is the abstract:

We examine the effects of child sibship size on intelligence, school performance and adult income for a sample of Swedish school children (n = 1326). These children were measured in grade three in 1965 (age 10) and in grades six (age 13) and nine (age 16), and the women and men were later followed up in adulthood at ages 43 and 47, respectively. Using Bayesian varying-intercept modeling we account for differences between school classes in each of our three response variables: IQ-scores, school grades and adult income, and control for background variables such as gender, socioeconomic status, and maternal- and paternal age. Consistent with previous research, we find patterns of decreasing IQ scores for increasing sibship sizes, specifically for an increasing number of older siblings. No relationships between sibship size and children’s school grades are found. We find, however, patterns of decreasing adult income for an increasing number of younger siblings. In addition, considerable amounts of variations in intelligence scores as well as school grades are found between school classes. Some implications of the findings and suggestions for future research are provided.

The Effects of Toxins on the Developing Brain

27 Mar

(Hat tip to Monitor on Psychology)

William Sheldon and bariatric surgery

30 Dec

William Sheldon was a piece of work. A psychiatrist who worked on the margins of the American academy. Famously difficult to get along with, prone to wild assertions, personally eccentric, and largely forgotten.

If he is remembered at all, it is for his involvement in the Ivy League posture photo scandal. Yet, Sheldon’s system of body classification still lives on in exercise physiology. His categories of endomorphy, ectomorphy, and mesomorphy are still used by some physicians to describe human physique.

Central to Sheldon’s system was the assertion that body type is correlated with personality. Sheldon thought that differences in body composition drove human psychological differences, an idea largely rejected by main stream psychology. However, while reading this fascinating article in the New York Times about bariatric surgery, I came across this:

Most people believe that the operation simply forces people to eat less by making their stomachs smaller, but scientists have discovered that it actually causes profound changes in patients’ physiology, altering the activity of thousands of genes in the human body as well as the complex hormonal signaling from the gut to the brain.

It often leads to astonishing changes in the way things taste, making cravings for a rich slice of chocolate cake or a bag of White Castle hamburgers simply vanish.

Here is a paper I wrote on somatotypes in 2008.

A (counter-)revolution in linguistics?

14 Sep

This week I will have to introduce my students to language development. This usually involves describing Chomsky’s theory, the standard in all textbooks. However, a serous challenge to Chomsky’s views has begun to emerge. You can read about it here in this Scientific American piece:

At the time the Chomskyan paradigm was proposed, it was a radical break from the more informal approaches prevalent at the time, and it drew attention to all the cognitive complexities in­­volved in becoming competent at speaking and understanding language. But at the same time that theories such as Chomsky’s allowed us to see new things, they also blinded us to other aspects of language. In linguistics and allied fields, many researchers are be­­coming ever more dissatisfied with a totally formal language approach such as universal grammar—not to mention the empirical inadequacies of the theory.

I wonder if there will be any renewed interest in Skinner’s ideas on this topic?

 

Chess: victory to the young

27 Jun

A wonderful piece by Tom Vanderbilt in Nautilus about learning chess with his four year old daughter:

“It wasn’t long before it struck me that chess seemed to be a game for the young. When my daughter began doing scholastic tournaments, I would chat up other parents and ask whether they played—usually the reply was an apologetic shrug and a smile. I would explain that I too was learning to play, and the resulting tone was cheerily patronizing: Good luck with that! Reading about an international tournament, I was struck by a suggestion that a grandmaster had passed his peak. He was in his 30s. We are used to athletes being talked about in this way. But a mind game like chess?”

Read the whole piece, it’s a good reflection on how our brains change with age. I particularly like this sentence:

“As we get older, there is one thing at which we get worse: Being a novice.”

I always found it depressing that my phone, even set to the lowest level, can beat me at chess.

“Flame Retardant Pollutants and Child Development”

22 Jul

From NutritionFacts.org:

 

%d bloggers like this: