• Vaughan Relationship Centre: Counselling to Empower.

The Netflix series “100 Humans” conducted a unique experiment to investigate the impact of praise and criticism on individuals.


Sixteen individuals were chosen to learn the art of plate spinning. They participated in a training session led by a talented plate spinner and were given two hours to practice.  Subsequently, their performance was assessed by the instructor and two judges. Before demonstrating their newly acquired talent, everyone was randomly assigned to receive either praise or criticism despite the outcome of their performance.  This was a blind study, and the participants did not know if they would receive praise or criticism.

Half the participants were praised, while the other half faced criticism. Following the evaluation, the participants were given additional time to practice. This experiment assessed whether their second performance would be enhanced or impaired based on the feedback received – praise or criticism.  While some group members quickly grasped the technique, others encountered difficulties.

One participant demonstrated exceptional skill and possessed an innate talent.  Unknown to her, she was deemed to receive criticism for her performance and was told that her performance was lazy and that she was not giving it her all.  Following the critique, she was interviewed and believed she was better than the feedback and was disheartened by what the judges had to say.  She experienced a slight decline in her second performance, attributing it to overthinking.

The second participant really struggled, but she was given a lot of praise and told she was a “natural.”   In the second round, she displayed a remarkable improvement compared to her initial performance, highlighting the impact of positive reinforcement.

Another participant faced significant difficulty during the task and was designated to receive criticism. The judges, with heavy hearts, told him their dog could do a better job (Ouch!).   Consequently, this person’s performance deteriorated further during the second attempt.  He shared feeling demotivated and lacking the will to try after receiving criticism.


The result of the experiment found that those who got positive reinforcement in the first round did better in the second round.  Those who received criticism performed worse in the second performance.  This underscores the significant influence of feedback on one’s performance.

How Praise and Criticism Impact Relationships

Criticizing our significant others can give rise to feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness within them. Partners may attempt to please by trying harder. However, their anxiety to achieve perfection often leads to increased mistakes. Consequently, their partners offer more criticism, leading to an eventual withdrawal from the criticized partner.

By appreciating our partners for their actions rather than focusing on what they lack, we can evoke positive emotions, fostering a desire to accomplish more and provide greater support, ultimately enhancing the sense of importance and strengthening the bond within the relationship.

To learn more about how to break negative cycles in your relationship, contact us at the Vaughan Relationship Centre.