2019: How does parental praise affect children’s exploration?

How does parental praise affect children’s exploration? An interdisciplinary experiment using virtual reality (VR)

AYA project leaders: Katinka van der Kooij


An important part of motor learning is exploration: varying the motor behavior without knowing whether a variation will result in success or failure. Western parents often seek to encourage children’s motor learning by lavishing them with praise. However, there is growing evidence that praise may have unintended consequences. We theorize that praise may reduce children’s exploration because it makes them concerned about making favorable impressions on others. Therefore they may shy away from exploration, which could lead to failure. This project is an interdisciplinary UvA-VU collaboration within AYA to study these questions in Science Center NEMO, the largest science museum in The Netherlands, using a virtual reality task. This research will be part of Science Live, the innovative research program of Science Center NEMO that enables scientists to use NEMO visitors as participants.