Implicit theories of intelligence predict achievement across an adolescent transition: a longitudinal study and an intervention

Child Dev. 2007 Jan-Feb;78(1):246-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.00995.x.


Two studies explored the role of implicit theories of intelligence in adolescents' mathematics achievement. In Study 1 with 373 7th graders, the belief that intelligence is malleable (incremental theory) predicted an upward trajectory in grades over the two years of junior high school, while a belief that intelligence is fixed (entity theory) predicted a flat trajectory. A mediational model including learning goals, positive beliefs about effort, and causal attributions and strategies was tested. In Study 2, an intervention teaching an incremental theory to 7th graders (N=48) promoted positive change in classroom motivation, compared with a control group (N=43). Simultaneously, students in the control group displayed a continuing downward trajectory in grades, while this decline was reversed for students in the experimental group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Culture
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Helplessness, Learned
  • Humans
  • Intelligence*
  • Internal-External Control
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Motivation
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Teaching / methods