Individual differences in response to attributional praise in an online learning environment

  • Qin ZhaoEmail author
  • Xiaoxia Huang
Research Article


This study investigated how gender and beliefs about ability moderate the effects of attributional praise feedback on college students’ task motivation and performance in an online environment. We conducted a 3 (praise type: ability vs. effort vs. none) × 2 (gender: male vs. female) × 2 (belief about ability: entity vs. incremental) between-subjects factorial experiment with 196 college students. Analysis of variance of the data detected significant interactions between praise and gender on the main outcome variables. Overall, praise feedback had significantly positive impact on male participants’ task performance, self-efficacy, and intrinsic motivation; whereas for female participants, praise feedback had no significant effects on these variables. Additionally, there is a trend (albeit non-significant) interaction between praise type and belief type on task effort, indicating that for entity-belief group, ability praise feedback tended to positively influence task effort whereas for incremental-belief group, effort praise feedback tended to positively impact task effort. Implications of these findings for theory and practice are discussed.


Attributional feedback Praise Gender Beliefs about ability Self-efficacy Performance 



This study was funded by a Quick-Turn-Around Grant awarded to the authors by the Office of the Provost at Western Kentucky University.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, GRH 3015Western Kentucky UniversityBowling GreenUSA
  2. 2.School of Teacher EducationWestern Kentucky UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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