Do Student Mindsets Differ by Socioeconomic Status and Explain Disparities in Academic Achievement in the United States?

Mesmin Destin, Paul Hanselman, Jenny Buontempo, Elizabeth Tipton, David S. Yeager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Students from higher–socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds show a persistent advantage in academic outcomes over lower-SES students. It is possible that students’ beliefs about academic ability, or mindsets, play some role in contributing to these disparities. Data from a recent nationally representative sample of ninth-grade students in U.S. public schools provided evidence that higher SES was associated with fewer fixed beliefs about academic ability (a group difference of.22 standard deviations). Also, there was a negative association between a fixed mindset and grades that was similar regardless of a student’s SES. Finally, student mindsets were a significant but small factor in explaining the existing relationship between SES and achievement. Altogether, mindsets appear to be associated with socioeconomic circumstances and academic achievement; however, the vast majority of the existing socioeconomic achievement gap in the U.S. is likely driven by the root causes of inequality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAERA Open
Volume5
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

Keywords

  • achievement
  • mindset
  • socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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