Effort. Achievement. Motivation. These three elements come together when grappling with obstacles and dilemmas. But which is most vital, especially when serving as the sounding board for the person in a quandary?
Dr. Lauren Eskreis-Winkler is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work focuses on how to motivate people struggling to achieve their goals. To further examine this, Eskreis-Winkler proposed a studied to the relationship between motivational advice and goal achievement. What she discovered: most people assume there are benefits from receiving motivational advice. Which led to another question — what if the opposite is also true?
Eskreis-Winkler chose to work with seven diverse US public high schools. Her reasoning: students spend their entire academic careers working to meet preset goals. Some just want to pass their classes. Others work hard to excel. This made a student body an excellent resource for Eskreis-Winkler’s hypothesis.
For the study, students identified the areas in which they wanted to improve at school. Next, researchers randomly assigned them to one of two groups. One group participated in an eight-minute advice-giving session. The other was a control group. The control group participated in self-reporting and other activities, but did not give advice.
The study found students who gave advice felt more motivated. They also saw an improvement in grades on their next report card. In fact, they scored better grades than the control group.
Eskreis-Winkler tells Parentology this is not the only study confirming the benefits of giving advice. “In other studies, we’ve gathered evidence that giving advice motivates achievement by raising confidence,” she says. “It makes intuitive sense. Giving advice implies the giver possesses, as opposed to lacks, the skill in question. Receiving advice, inadvertently, implies the opposite.”
Last year, a study conducted by Professor Ayelet Fishbach at the University of Chicago led to similar findings. He partnered with Angela Duckworth and Eskries-Winkler for the study. Note: Duckworth also worked with Eskries-Winkler on the more recent study. The findings showed people who struggle with goal achievement may benefit more from giving advice than receiving it.
In a 2018 article, Inc. confirmed the same findings are true in the workplace. The writer cited a study completed by MIT researchers. This time, people advised others on problems they were struggling with. The study found providing advice sometimes had a stronger positive impact on motivation than receiving advice.
Eskreis-Winkler’s study mainly focuses on classroom settings. Other studies confirm a wider application. For example, Inc. asserts putting people in a position to give advice could build leadership skills. It also motivates them to take their own advice.
Why Eskreis-Winkler sees particular value in the approach for schools? She explains, “[Students] may be raising their own academic confidence in the process of tutoring. [They may benefit] as much, or perhaps even more, than the students they tutor.”
With this in mind, Eskreis-Winkler challenges professionals invested in the improvement of others to rethink their approach.
Giving Advice Doesn’t Only Help the Receiver — Sources
Lauren Eskreis-Winkler, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
Penn Today: Advice-Giving Benefits The Person Sharing Guidance
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: A Large-Scale Field Experiment Shows Giving Advice Improves Academic Outcomes for The Advisor
University of Chicago: Giving Advice May Increase Motivation and Confidence, Research Finds
Inc.: Why Giving Advice, Rather Than Receiving It, Will Work Wonders For Your Motivation