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Does growth mindset improve children’s IQ, educational attainment or response to setbacks? Active-control interventions and data on children’s own mindsets

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Original languageEnglish
PublisherSocArXiv
Pages1-27
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2017

Abstract

Mindset theory predicts that children’s IQ and school grades are positively linked to their belief that basic ability is malleable rather than fixed. We test this prediction in three experimental studies (total n = 624 individually-tested 10-12-year-olds). Two studies included active-control conditions to test effects of fixed-ability beliefs independent of motivation. In addition, we tested whether children’s own mindsets relate to real-life IQ, educational attainment in longitudinal analyses of school grades. Praise for intelligence had no significant effect on cognitive performance. Nor were any effects of mindset were found for challenging material. Active-control data showed that occasional apparent effects of praise for hard work on easy outcome measures reflected motivational confounds rather than effects of implicit beliefs about the malleability of intelligence (study 3, active control condition). Children’s own mindsets showed no relationship to IQ, school grades, or change in grades across the school year, with the only significant result being in the reverse direction to prediction (better performance in children holding a fixed mindset). Fixed beliefs about basic ability appear to be unrelated to ability, and we found no support for mindset-effects on cognitive ability, response to challenge, or educational progress.

    Research areas

  • growth mindset, motivation, IQ, child development, educational achievement, educational attainment

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