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Telling children that they’re smart may induce them to cheat when stakes are high, suggests research in Psychological Science. Researchers asked 150 3-year-old and 150 5-year-old children to play a guessing game in which they had to guess whether a hidden playing card had a value higher or lower than six. In a “practice” trial, the researcher told the children they had guessed correctly. They also told one-third of the children “You are smart,” one-third “You did very well this time” and one-third were given no extra feedback. Later, the experimenter left the room and instructed the children not to peek at the hidden card. In both age groups the children who had originally been praised for their smarts were more likely to cheat than the children who had been praised for “doing well this time” or not praised at all.

Susie Bean Gives