Community Voices

Young Observers Mid-February 2023: Did you know?

Erin“Our Brain Can Be Tricked to Learn More”

In his Ted Talk, famous YouTuber Mark Rober showed the results of 50,000 people attempting a coding puzzle he posted.

There were two different kinds of outcomes — one said, “Try again,” while the other outcome said, “You lost 5 points. Try again.”

Those who got “try again” made an average of 12 attempts, and the success rate was 68%. On the other hand, those penalized for each unsuccessful try only took five attempts, and their success rate was 52%.

People in the non-penalty group had a better success rate because of “shifting the focus from failing to sticking with a task and learning more.”

A similar example is how toddlers learn to walk. They are not punished if they fall, but they remember not to repeat what they did when they fell.

Mark Rober explained how “the focus and obsession are about succeeding, not how dumb you might look if you fall.” Additionally, he pointed out how if you reframe challenges in a more fun way, it can make a difference.

To make his point, he presented a drawing called “expectation,” in which a character on a bike is on a straight path to the finish line. Another drawing called “reality” is full of pits and obstacles.

He says if life were a game, the version called “expectation” wouldn’t be as fun as “reality.”

He asks, “Where’s the risk and the reward? Where’s the challenge?”