Original Paper

Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 333-343

First online:

The Effects of Social-Comparison Versus Mastery Praise on Children’s Intrinsic Motivation

  • Jennifer Henderlong CorpusAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Reed College Email author 
  • , Christin M. OgleAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of California
  • , Kelly E. Love-GeigerAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Reed College

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Two studies examined the effects of social-comparison versus mastery praise on 4th- and 5th-grade children’s intrinsic motivation. Children received a high score and either social-comparison praise, mastery praise, or no praise for working on a set of novel puzzles. They then worked on a different task and were given either ambiguous feedback (Study 1) or positive feedback (Study 2) before completing measures of intrinsic motivation. Mastery praise enhanced intrinsic motivation and social-comparison praise curtailed it when uncertainty about children’s subsequent performance was introduced (Study 1) and, for girls, even in situations of continued success (Study 2). Social-comparison praise also tended to discourage children from seeking subsequent self-evaluative normative information. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


Intrinsic motivation Praise Social Comparison Mastery Gender