Efforts to reduce youth mental health problems have advanced greatly but have not lowered overall rates of youth mental illness. Thus, a need exists for disseminable, mechanism-targeted approaches to reducing risk of youth psychopathology. Accordingly, we conducted a randomized-controlled trial testing whether a single-session intervention teaching growth personality mindsets (the belief that personality is malleable) reduced known risk factors for anxiety and depression in adolescents experiencing or at risk for internalizing problems (N = 96, ages 12-15). Compared to a supportive-therapy control, a 30-min computer-guided mindset intervention strengthened adolescents' perceived control; this improvement was associated with increases in growth mindsets. Further, electrodermal activity recovery slopes showed that youths receiving the mindset intervention recovered from a lab-based social stressor over three times as fast as control group youths. Improvements in growth mindsets and perceived control were linked with faster stress recovery. Results suggest a disseminable strategy for reducing internalizing problem risk among adolescents.
Keywords: Adolescence; Anxiety; Depression; Intervention; Mediation; Mindset; Youth.
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