Fixed intelligence mindsets predict system legitimization in educational contexts

Laura M. Brady*, Arianne E. Eason, Stephanie A. Fryberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growth and fixed mindsets (i.e., beliefs about whether people’s abilities can be developed) shape how people interpret and respond to events in their social worlds. The present work examines how these mindsets relate to individuals’ likelihood of legitimizing racial and socioeconomic inequities in education. Meta-analyses of 20 original studies including K-12 teachers and staff members (k = 8; N ≈ 2001), college students (k = 7; N ≈ 2725), and American adults (k = 5; N ≈ 1792) demonstrated that the belief that intelligence is an unchangeable characteristic (i.e., fixed mindset) consistently predicted greater likelihood of legitimizing educational inequities via five different measures of legitimization. These results suggest that fixed mindsets about intelligence are likely to undermine policy-driven efforts to change inequitable educational systems, and that one pathway toward educational equity involves attending to prevailing beliefs about the possibilities of growing one’s intelligence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSocial Psychology of Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Education
  • Fixed mindset
  • Inequality
  • System legitimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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