There’s an excellent review of Carol Dweck’s work on mindset and related neuroscience research in this month’s Wired. Essentially, people who believe more in their ability to grow mentally (a growth mindset) learn more from mistakes that those who have a static view of their own intelligence (a fixed mindset). In our own game design, we’re careful not to shower players with praise such as “You’re smart!” or “Brilliant!” because as Dweck’s work shows, praising a child’s smarts can cause them to fear challenge and taking risks (because getting wrong answers threatens their self-image as a “smart” kid). Rather, praising effort – “You stuck through it”, “Your hard work paid off” – can encourage children to try challenges, learn from mistakes, and believe in their own growth. Read the article from the excellent Jonah Lehrer for a further investigation.