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Failure, Effects of

  • By: John Dewey & Karl Kelley
  • In: Encyclopedia of Educational Psychology
  • Edited by: Neil J. Salkind
  • Subject:School/Educational Psychology (general), Educational Psychology, School Psychology

Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.

John Dewey

All people face obstacles and failures in a variety of life tasks. In academic, athletic, and business settings, failure feedback is often clear—receiving a poor grade, losing the game, or not getting a promotion. On a personal level, failures can range from the breakup of a relationship to not accomplishing a goal. For many psychologists, the question is not if an individual will experience failure, but how will he or she respond to it. Failure can have devastating consequences for an individual because it may confirm preexisting negative beliefs or require downward revisions in self-image or goals. Repeated failures may lead to feelings of helplessness and depression. ...

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