Science Project:

Does Praise Enhance Future Performance?

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Research Questions:

  • Do people who receive praise perform better compared to those who are not praised?
  • Do specific age groups or genders respond better to praise?

Can praise lead to improvements in performance? In this experiment, you will evaluate this question by observing test subjects’ athletic performance before and after receiving praise. You will compare this group’s performance to a control group that is not praised.

Materials:

  • Approximately 40 test subjects
  • Track
  • Stopwatch
  • Notebook for recording and analyzing results

Experimental Procedure

  1. Recruit test subjects for your study. Include male and female test subjects in a variety of age groups. Do not tell them what you are investigating in your experiment or that they will be asked to run more than once.
  2. Ask a test subject to run a 50 yard dash.
  3. Record the time it takes for the run to be completed.
  4. After the test subject completes the run, tell them that they had an excellent time and were faster than all the other subjects you have studied thus far. Include any other additional praise that you can think of.
  5. Wait 5 minutes and ask the test subject to repeat the run.
  6. Record their time. Record how much faster or slower their second run was.
  7. Repeat steps 2-6 with 20 test subjects.
  8. Now, repeat steps 2-6 with your other group of 20 test subjects (your control group). For this group do not perform step 4. This group should not receive praise after the first run.
  9. Analyze your results. What was the average improvement in time between run one and run two in the group that was praised? How did this compare to average improvement in the group that was not praised? Within each group, divide your test subjects by age group or gender. Do certain groups of people seem to respond better to praise than others?

Terms/Concepts: praise and performance

Author: Megan Doyle
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