Do Parents' and teachers' failure mindsets influence children's intelligence mindset?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Haimovitz and Dweck reported that children's growth mindset was not related to their parents' growth mindset, but instead was associated with parents' attitude to failure (whether failure was viewed as debilitating or enhancing) ( n= 73, = .24, p= .038). In addition, children reported that parents who believed failure is debilitating were more concerned about children's performance and grades (performance orientation) than the efforts they made (learning orientation, = .37, p= .002). Here, we report a test of these associations. In addition, as teachers are major potential influences on children, we examined how differences in children's reports of a single teacher's attitudes to failure relate to children's intelligence mindset. We hypothesised that: First, children's failure attitudes and growth mindset would be positively associafted. Second, parent's reported failure-attitude would be associated positively with children's growth mindset. Third, that children's growth mindset would be positively associated with higher reported parental learning orientation. Finally, we tested whether differences in children's beliefs about a single common teacher's failure attitudes would covary with their own growth mindset. In total, 227 pupils (118 males, 109 females) were recruited from a public primary school in Harbin, China. Participants were aged from 7 years 8 months to 11 years 4 months old (mean=10.09, SD=0.52). Following Haimovitz and Dweck (2016) study 1 and 3, we created a 30-item questionnaire including the 8 item intelligence mindset sclae (e.g. "You have a certain amount of intelligence, and you can't really do much to change it"), 6-item children's failure mindset scale (e.g. "Experiencing failure enhances my performance and productivity"), 4-item parent failure mindset scale (e.g. "My parents think failure hurts my learning"), an 8-item learning vs performance orientation scale (e.g. "My parents would be pleased if I could show that school is easy for me") and 4-item teacher's failure mindset questionnaire (e.g. "My main course teacher thinks failure can help me to learn"). Children's growth mindset was significantly associated with both their reports of both parental beliefs in the enhancing effects of failure (β = 0.15, p = 0.024), and, despite the fact that teacher was shared by the subjects, with reported teacher beliefs (β = 0.17, p = 0.012). Children's own failure beliefs correlated with their growth mindset scores (β = 0.24, p < 0.001) but not with reported of their parents' learning orientation (β = 0.08, p = 0.24). We supported the finding that growth mindset is significantly associated with children's report of parents' beliefs in the enhancing effects of failure. However, our results do not support that children's growth mindset is associated with their parents' learning orientation. The finding that children's growth mindset is significantly associated with teacher's belief in the enhancing effects of failure despite having a single common teacher suggests the association may reside in the minds of the children, rather than reflecting causal effects of parent's or teachers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2018


  • child development
  • child IQ
  • motivation


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