Developmental Stage

Publication Type

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.

Adolescents’ perceptions of the prejudice in their social environments can factor into their developmental outcomes. The degree to which others in the environment perceive such prejudice—regardless of adolescents’ own perceptions— also matters by shedding light on the contextual climate in which adolescents spend their daily lives. Drawing on the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this study revealed that school-wide perceptions of peer prejudice, which tap into the interpersonal climate of schools, appeared to be particularly risky for adolescents’ academic achievement. In contrast, adolescents’ own perceptions of peer prejudice at schools were associated with their feelings of alienation in school. Importantly, these patterns did not vary substantially by several markers of vulnerability to social stigmatization.