Preference - performance - praise? Or, performance - praise - preference? Or...
It started when my younger sister asked if I thought my project to fully memorize 300 jazz standards was helping my memory improve in domains aside from music. While trying to land on an answer to her question, I suddenly found myself mired in an old chicken/egg story, although this one has dessert as well.
Although I'd been exposed to it earlier, during my graduate studies the reinforcing loop educational psychologists have identified involving performance, preference & praise began troubling me. In particular, I started questioning exactly where in that loop the praise - dessert - is more likely to fall. That is, do we begin by having a preferred way of tackling things and if that leads to a positive outcome (aka performance) the subsequent praise reinforces that preference? Or, must the praise follow the performance in order to drive our preferences, increasing our confidence and leading to more performance? Where does trial and error fit into the model?
And what about people who don't need dessert as much as say, I do? Is it possible their loop begins with the intrinsic satisfaction they derive from any performance and that is what largely drives their future preferences even before praise enters the picture? Happy to report the conversation with my sister moved to our respective parenting styles so this particular chicken, egg and dessert are back in the deep freeze for now. What is your view on where the dessert belongs in this meal?