Background/Aims: Recent research on mindsets has shifted from understanding its homogenous role on performance to understanding how classroom environments explain its heterogeneous effects (i.e., Mindsets × Context hypothesis). Does the macro context (e.g., societal level of student mindsets) also help explain its heterogeneous effects? And does this interaction effect also apply to understanding students' well-being? To address these questions, we examined whether and how the role of students' mindsets in performance (math, science, reading) and well-being (meaning in life, positive affect, life satisfaction) depends on the societal-mindset norms (i.e., Mindsets × Societal Norm effect).
Sample/Methods: We analysed a global data set (n = 612,004 adolescents in 78 societies) using multilevel analysis. The societal norm of student mindsets was the average score derived from students within each society.
Results: Growth mindsets positively and weakly predicted all performance outcomes (rs =.192,.210,.224), but the associations were significantly stronger in societies with growth-mindset norms. In contrast, the associations between growth mindsets and psychological well-being were very weak and inconsistent (rs = −.066,.003,.008). Importantly, the association was negative in societies with fixed-mindset norms but positive in societies with growth-mindset norms.
Conclusions: These findings challenge the idea that growth mindsets have ubiquitous positive effects in all societies. Growth mindsets might be ineffective or even detrimental in societies with fixed-mindset norms because such societal norms could suppress the potential of students with growth mindsets and undermines their well-being. Researchers should take societal norms into consideration in their efforts to understand and foster students' growth. Copyright © 2022 British Psychological Society.
CitationLou, N. M., & Li, L. M. W. (2023). The mindsets × societal norm effect across 78 cultures: Growth mindsets are linked to performance weakly and well-being negatively in societies with fixed-mindset norms. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(1), 134-152. doi: 10.1111/bjep.12544