In recent years the field has improved the standards for replicators to follow to help ensure that a replication attempt, whether it succeeds or fails, will be informative. When these standards are not followed, false claims can result and opportunities to learn are missed, which could undermine the larger scientific enterprise and hinder the accumulation of knowledge. In the case addressed here-Li and Bates' (in press) attempt to replicate Mueller and Dweck's (1998) findings on the effects of ability versus effort praise on post-failure performance-the replicating authors did not follow best practices in the design or analysis of the study. Correcting even the simplest deviations from standard procedures yielded a clear replication of the original results. Li and Bates' data therefore provided one of the strongest possible types of evidence in support of Mueller and Dweck's (1998) findings: an independent replication by a researcher who is on record being skeptical of the phenomenon. The present paper highlights the wisdom of upholding the field's rigorous standards for replication research. It also highlights the importance of moving beyond yes/no thinking in replication studies and toward an approach that values collaboration, generalization, and the systematic identification of boundary conditions.
This article reports findings from the largest-ever randomized controlled trial of a growth mindset program in the United States in K-12 settings. The study combined a test for cause-and-effect (a randomized experiment) with a sample that enables claims about an entire population (a nationally representative probability sample). The study found that a short (less than one hour), online growth mindset intervention—which teaches that intellectual abilities can be developed—improved grades among lower-achieving students and increased enrollment in advanced mathematics courses among both higher- and lower-achieving students in a nationally representative sample of regular public high schools in the United States. Notably, the study identified school contexts that moderated the effects of the growth mindset intervention: the intervention had a stronger effect on grades when peer norms aligned with the messages of the intervention. In addition to its rigorous design, the study also featured independent data collection and processing, pre-registration of analyses, and corroboration of results by a blinded Bayesian analysis.
tags: growth mindset
A growth mindset is the belief that human capacities are not fixed but can be developed over time, and mindset research examines the power of such beliefs to influence human behavior. This article offers two personal perspectives on mindset research across two eras. Given recent changes in the field, the authors represent different generations of researchers, each focusing on different issues and challenges, but both committed to “era-bridging” research. The first author traces mindset research from its systematic examination of how mindsets affect challenge seeking and resilience, through the ways in which mindsets influence the formation of judgments and stereotypes. The second author then describes how mindset research entered the era of field experiments and replication science, and how researchers worked to create reliable interventions to address underachievement—including a national experiment in the United States. The authors conclude that there is much more to learn but that the studies to date illustrate how an era-bridging program of research can continue to be generative and relevant to new generations of scholars.
Carol Dweck describes this article as charting her evolution "from a researcher doing basic research with little thought of direct application to a researcher and writer with a mission to use what I learn for the benefit of individuals and, I hope, of society itself." She lays out current challenges and opportunities in translating social science into usable interventions and practices for students and teachers.
People are often told to find their passion as though passions and interests are pre-formed and must simply be discovered. This idea, however, has hidden motivational implications. Five studies examined implicit theories of interest—the idea that personal interests are relatively fixed (fixed theory) or developed (growth theory). Whether assessed or experimentally induced, a fixed theory was more likely to dampen interest in areas outside people’s existing interests (Studies 1–3). Those endorsing a fixed theory were also more likely to anticipate boundless motivation when passions were found, not anticipating possible difficulties (Study 4). Moreover, when engaging in a new interest became difficult, interest flagged significantly more for people induced to hold a fixed than a growth theory of interest (Study 5). Urging people to find their passion may lead them to put all their eggs in one basket but then to drop that basket when it becomes difficult to carry.
This paper provides a developmental science-based perspective on two related issues: Why traditional preventative school-based interventions work reasonably well for children, but less so for middle adolescents, and why some alternative intervention approaches show promise for middle adolescents. The authors propose the hypothesis that traditional interventions fail when they do not align with adolescents’ enhanced desire to feel respected and be accorded status; however, interventions that do align with this desire can motivate internalized, positive behavior change.
The paper reviews examples of promising interventions that directly harness the desire for status and respect, provide adolescents with more respectful treatment from adults, or lessen the negative influence of threats to status and respect. These examples are in the domains of unhealthy snacking, middle school discipline, and high school aggression. Discussion centers on implications for basic developmental science and for improvements to youth policy and practice.
Carol Dweck's career has been devoted to understanding the nature, workings, and development of children's motivation. This paper outlines the trajectory of her research including research on motivation in animals; the motivational impact of children's attributions, achievement goals, and mindsets about their abilities; how socialization practices affect these mindsets; how interventions that change children's mindsets can enhance their motivation and learning. In addition, she outlines a new theory that puts motivation and the formation of mindsets (or beliefs) at the heart of social and personality development.
For decades, increasing intergroup contact has been the preferred method for improving cooperation between groups. However, even proponents of this approach acknowledge that intergroup contact may not be effective in the context of intractable conflicts. One question is whether anything can be done to increase the impact of intergroup contact on cooperation. In the present study, the research team tested whether changing perceptions of group malleability in a pre-encounter intervention could increase the degree of cooperation during contact encounters. Jewish and Palestinian-Israeli adolescents were randomly assigned either to a condition that taught that groups are malleable or to a coping, control condition. During a subsequent intergroup encounter, the researchers used two behavioral tasks to estimate the levels of cooperation. Results indicated that relative to controls, participants in the group malleability condition showed enhanced cooperation. These findings suggest new avenues for enhancing the impact of contact in the context of intractable conflicts.
tags: experimental study
This response letter outlines the difference between authentic replication of psychological studies and inauthentic attempts that may not accurately represent the full study it's attempting to replicate.
In this study the research team uses a nationwide sample of high school students from Chile to investigate how these factors interact on a systemic level. Confirming prior research, they find that family income is a strong predictor of achievement. Extending prior research, they find that a growth mindset (the belief that intelligence is not fixed and can be developed) is a comparably strong predictor of achievement and that it exhibits a positive relationship with achievement across all of the socioeconomic strata in the country. Furthermore, they find that students from lower-income families were less likely to hold a growth mindset than their wealthier peers, but those who did hold a growth mindset were appreciably buffered against the deleterious effects of poverty on achievement. These results suggest that students’ mindsets may temper or exacerbate the effects of economic disadvantage on a systemic level.
Children’s intelligence mind-sets (i.e., their beliefs about whether intelligence is fixed or malleable) robustly influence their motivation and learning. Yet, surprisingly, research has not linked parents’ intelligence mind-sets to their children’s. We tested the hypothesis that a different belief of parents—their failure mind-sets—may be more visible to children and therefore more prominent in shaping their beliefs. Overall, parents who see failure as debilitating focus on their children’s performance and ability rather than on their children’s learning, and their children, in turn, tend to believe that intelligence is fixed rather than malleable.
Previous experiments have shown that college students benefit when they understand that challenges in the transition to college are common and improvable and, thus, that early struggles need not portend a permanent lack of belonging or potential. Could such an approach—called a lay theory intervention—be effective before college matriculation? The lay theory interventions raised first-year full-time college enrollment among students from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds exiting a high-performing charter high school network or entering a public flagship university (experiments 1 and 2) and, at a selective private university, raised disadvantaged students’ cumulative first-year grade point average (experiment 3). These gains correspond to 31–40% reductions of the raw (unadjusted) institutional achievement gaps between students from disadvantaged and nondisadvantaged backgrounds at those institutions. Further, follow-up surveys suggest that the interventions improved disadvantaged students’ overall college experiences, promoting use of student support services and the development of friendship networks and mentor relationships.
There are many promising psychological interventions on the horizon, but there is no clear methodology for preparing them to be scaled up. Drawing on design thinking, the present research formalizes a methodology for redesigning and tailoring initial interventions. The researchers test the methodology using the case of fixed versus growth mindsets during the transition to high school. The current research provides a model for how to improve and scale interventions that begin to address pressing educational problems. It also provides insight into how to teach a growth mindset more effectively.
Knowing what we don't yet know is critical for learning. Nonetheless, people typically overestimate their prowess—but is this true of everyone? Three studies examined who shows overconfidence and why. Study 1 demonstrated that participants with an entity (fixed) theory of intelligence, those known to avoid negative information, showed significantly more overconfidence than those with more incremental (malleable) theories. In Study 2, participants who were taught an entity theory of intelligence allocated less attention to difficult problems than those taught an incremental theory. Participants in this entity condition also displayed more overconfidence than those in the incremental condition, and this difference in overconfidence was mediated by the observed bias in attention to difficult problems. Finally, in Study 3, directing participants' attention to difficult aspects of the task reduced the overconfidence of those with more entity views of intelligence. Implications for reducing biased self-assessments that can interfere with learning were discussed.
Preschoolers watched a puppet show in which the protagonist drew a picture and was praised by a teacher. Children who saw the protagonist receive generic praise about his ability (“You are a good drawer”) were more upset when the protagonist subsequently made a mistake, and less likely to want to draw themselves compared to children who saw the protagonist praised only for that specific drawing (“You did a good job drawing”).
This paper was prepared for a White House meeting on academic mindsets in May 2013. The authors review recent research findings and put forth an R&D agenda focused on principles (understanding how to maximize the effects of mindset interventions); practices (expanding the toolkit of day-to-day practices that instill adaptive mindsets; and assessments (developing measures that allow for more rapid learning from practice).
Students in the treatment group were taught about the malleability of intelligence, while students in the control group received a lesson on memory. Treated students were subsequently rated by teachers as being more motivated to do schoolwork than those in the control group. They also avoided the typical drop observed in motivation between 6th and 7th grades.
This article reviews research demonstrating that when adolescents believe that intellectual abilities and social attributes can be developed, they tend to show higher achievement across challenging school transitions, and reduced stress and aggression in response to bullying and exclusion. The authors suggest ideas for how educators can foster these mindsets that promote resilience in educational settings.
Toddlers whose parents praised their efforts more than they praised them as individuals exhibited a more positive approach to challenges five years later, and were more likely to hold an incremental framework about intelligence (i.e., a growth mindset).
Children displayed more "helpless" responses (including self blame) after receiving person criticism or praise than when they received process criticism or praise. Person feedback, even when positive, can create vulnerability and a sense of contingent self-worth.
Praise for intelligence had more negative consequences for students' motivation than praise for effort. After failure, children praised for intelligence also displayed less task persistence, less task enjoyment, more low-ability attributions, and worse task performance than children praised for effort.
Instructors holding more of an entity theory (fixed mindset) of math intelligence were quicker to judge students as having low ability and more likely to comfort students for low math ability and use "kind" strategies unlikely to promote engagement with the field (e.g., assigning less homework). Students receiving comfort-oriented feedback perceived the instructor's entity theory and low expectations, and reported lowered motivation and performance expectations.
The authors examine how an organization’s fixed (entity) or malleable (incremental) theory of intelligence affects people’s inferences about what is valued, their self- and social judgments, and their behavioral decisions. The authors find that people systematically shift their self-presentations when motivated to join an entity or incremental organization. People present their “smarts” to the entity environment and their “motivation” to the incremental environment. They also show downstream consequences of these inferences for participants’ self-concepts and their hiring decisions.
The authors describe a research-based model that accounts for major patterns of adaptive and maladaptive behavior (mastery-oriented and helpless patterns) in terms of psychological processes. Individuals who hold certain beliefs lead them to pursue certain goals, which set up the different cognitive, affective, and behavioral patterns we observe.
The authors describe several social psychological factors that affect student motivation and learning. They describe the properties of instructional practices and schools that appear to foster student mindsets, tenacity, and performance.
The authors delivered brief growth mindset and sense of purpose interventions through online modules to 1,594 high school students. Among students at risk of dropping out of high school, both of the interventions raised students' semester GPAs in core academic courses and increased the rate at which students passed their courses.