Children with Low Self-Esteem Inflated Praise

High School ・Psychology ・APA ・1 Sources

This article is not just beautiful, it's amazingly beautiful! Eddie Brummelman, Sander Thomaes, Bram Orobio de Castro, Geertjan Overbeek, and Brad J. Bushman's Adverse Effect of Inflated Praise on Children with Low Self-Esteem revolves around the psychology of children and how communication through inflated praise affects them, especially those with low self-esteem. Children's minds perceive and interpret information different from adults; thus, one should be mindful about the choice of words to use when communicating with children. The topic about adverse impacts of inflated praise on children with low self-esteem interested the authors because currently, the western society has many children who suffer from low self-esteem issues.

In an attempt to raise the self-esteem of the children, adults often tend to lavish children with inflated praise which later makes the children miss out essential learning experiences (Brummelman, Thomaes & Bushman et al., 2014). Inflated praise on children with low self-esteem has adverse effects causing them to avoid essential learning experiences in life.

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Research Question, Hypothesis, and Variables

The research question that the authors attempt to answer is what are the negative effects of overly positive praise on children with low self-esteem? There are several hypotheses in the article one of them being if adults have a higher tendency of giving overly positive praise to children with low self-esteem or to children who have high self-esteem. The other hypothesis is that whether overly positive praise on children with low self-esteem may cause them to have a decreased tendency to seek challenges and increased challenge seeking in children with high self-esteem (Brummelman, Thomaes & Bushman et al., 2014). The variables of interest in the study were the child’s self-esteem which was the dependent variable the researchers were interested in and the praise from adults which was independent and could affect the dependent variable.


The participants in the first study were 712 adults aged between 18 to 65 years and comprised of 95% women and 5% men. All the participants were recruited through online advertisements, and 94% of them were of Dutch origin. 87% of the participants were parents, 11% teachers, and 2% other. The second study had 144 parents between the ages of 30 to 62 and 114 children between aged between 7 to 11 years (Brummelman, Thomaes & Bushman et al., 2014). There were 88% mothers, 12% fathers and 51% girls and 49% boys. In the third study, there were 240 children with 57% of them being girls and 43% being boys aged between 8 to 12 years, and 88% of all the children were of Dutch origin.

Investigation of Hypothesis

To test whether adults give inflated praise to children with low or high self-esteem, the participants read six descriptions of children with high and low self-esteem and the activities they did followed by the praise each participant would give each child on an activity done. To test the hypothesis whether inflated praise caused low self-esteem children to have decreased challenge seeking abilities and vice versa, participants did a six-tem Global Self-Worth subscale of the Self-Perception Profile for Children (Brummelman, Thomaes & Bushman et al., 2014). Then they drew a famous painting which would be judged by a professional painter who would give feedback about the painting to assess whether the feedback from the professional painter would affect the challenge seeking ability of the child.

Results, Hypothesis Support, and Interpretation

Results of the study indicate that the adults gave more inflated praise to children with low self-esteem than to children with high self-esteem, and also children with low self-esteem answered fewer questions correctly.  The third study indicated that inflated praise decreased challenge seeking in children with low self-esteem and increased challenge seeking in children with high self-esteem (Brummelman, Thomaes & Bushman et al., 2014).  Yes, each hypothesis was supported adequately from the tests conducted. The results implicate that overly positive praise pushes children to believe that they should continue to meet high standards and triggers self-protection motives in children who have low self-esteem.

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Critique of Study

Strengths of the Study

One of the strengths regarding the study is the timing on the crucial stage of development of the children because the issue of low self-esteem usually begins when individuals are young. The study uses children between the ages of seven and twelve and uses the six-item Global Self-Worth subscale of the Self-Perception Profile for Children to rate where their self-esteem is rated (Brummelman, Thomaes & Bushman et al., 2014). Self-esteem issues manifest themselves as early as childhood and the study used children and adults to show interaction and effects that arise form inflated praise. Another strength of the study is the focusing on the antecedents and consequence of overly positive praise. Through focusing on these aspects, we get to see the situation of the children before the inflated praises and how the inflated praises, in turn, affect them and this gives a more in-depth insight and understanding of the study.

Limitations of the Study

The study has several limitations such as the research was conducted in Netherlands and this does not have diversification so the data may seem biased. By incorporating the majority of participants from the Dutch community, it becomes difficult to generalize the data globally since only a particular group of similar people took part in the study (Brummelman, Thomaes & Bushman et al., 2014). Another limitation is the assumption that inflated praise undermines the challenge seeking ability of children who have low self-esteem through self-protection motives but this was unconfirmed. Research information that is not confirmed my make the whole information untrusted since it does not have tangible evidence.

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Some of the recommendations to help improve the research study about inflated praise effects on children with low self-esteem are such as conducting the study using participants from across the globe to obtain varying results for analysis to prevent data from being biased. Another recommendation is to avoid assumptions through conducting research on all aspects of the study such as the self-protective motives of the children with low self-esteem to prevent assumptions which may be wrong thus, making the research inaccurate or doubtful.


The article researches on crucial information which affects the current world and provides insight into how adults attempt to raise the self-esteem of children through inflated praises. The article is very beneficial as it gives results after conducting three different tests with in-depth calculations, and using age-appropriate children and adults to collect information to show effects of inflated praise. Despite having a biased participant list in the study, the results from the study were meaningful and accurate. The study about inflated praise on children with low self-esteem contributes to the field of psychology by educating adults on the effect overly positive praise has on children. This knowledge helps the adults to understand how children with low self-esteem should be handled so that they improve and face challenges positively as learning experiences.

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Brummelman, E., Thomaes, S., Orobio de Castro, B., Overbeek, G., & Bushman, B. J. (2014). “That’s Not Just Beautiful—That’s Incredibly Beautiful!” The Adverse Impact of Inflated Praise on Children With Low Self-Esteem. Psychological science, 25(3), 728-735.

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