Society-level social axiom moderates the association between growth mindset and achievement across cultures

Br J Educ Psychol. 2021 Dec;91(4):1166-1184. doi: 10.1111/bjep.12411. Epub 2021 Feb 12.


Background: Meta-analytic studies show that the benefits of the growth mindset on academic achievement are heterogenous. Past studies have explored how individual characteristics and proximal environmental factors could explain these variations, but the role of the broader sociocultural environment has seldom been explored.

Aims: We investigated society-level social axioms to explain variations in growth mindset effects on achievement across cultures. We hypothesized that three society-level social axioms (social complexity, fate control, and reward for application) imply social norms that would either support or obstruct the growth mindset effect.

Sample and methods: We conducted multilevel SEM with random slopes using data from 273,074 students nested within 39 countries/territories.

Results: We found weaker growth mindset effects in societies with stronger social complexity beliefs; societies believing that there are multiple solutions to problems have social norms that obstruct the growth mindset effects on achievement. No moderating effects were found with other social axioms.

Conclusion: Relevant cultural-level normative beliefs should be considered to better assess the relevance of the growth mindset construct.

Keywords: academic achievement; growth mindset; multilevel SEM with random slopes; social axioms; social complexity.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Success*
  • Achievement*
  • Humans
  • Students