Article

Motivated Implicit Theories of Personality: My Weaknesses Will Go Away, but My Strengths Are Here to Stay

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Abstract

Across six studies, this research found consistent evidence for motivated implicit theories about personality malleability: People perceive their weaknesses as more malleable than their strengths. Moreover, motivation also influences how people see themselves in the future, such that they expect their present strengths to remain constant, but they expect their present weaknesses to improve in the future. Several additional findings suggest the motivational nature of these effects: The difference in perceived malleability for strengths versus weaknesses was only observed for the self, not for other people. When the desirability of possessing a certain trait was manipulated, that trait was perceived to be more malleable when it was depicted as undesirable. And these different beliefs that people have about how malleable their traits are, and how they will develop in the future, were associated with their desire for change, which is higher for weaknesses versus strengths.

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... Consistent with these assumptions, Heller et al. (2011, Study 2) found that participants predicted that they would have lower levels of neuroticism, a socially undesirable trait, in the distant future. Similarly, recent research about motivated implicit theories regarding negative traits has demonstrated that people believe that their weaknesses are more malleable than their strengths (Steimer & Mata, 2016). Klein and Epley (2016) found that people believed that they were less likely than others to perform a variety of hypothetical negative behaviors in the moral arena. ...
... Actors' improvement ratings also exceeded those of yoked observers who rated the same fault in a person they knew. Actors' belief in the impermanence of their faults is consistent with recent research, which found that people believe that their strengths are stable and their weaknesses are malleable (Steimer & Mata, 2016). ...
... A related line of research on the Temporally Extended Self has expanded research on temporal self-appraisal theory by examining the implications that imagined future selves have on current self-appraisals (Peetz & Wilson, 2008), although research on this topic has not been directed at negative characteristics and behaviors (Peetz & Wilson, 2008;Williams & Gilovich, 2008;Williams et al., 2012). Our research, along with other recent research (Klein & Epley, 2016;Steimer & Mata, 2016) fill this gap in the literature by focusing on individuals' beliefs that their faults and behaviors will become less negative in the future. ...
Article
Three studies explored whether self-enhancement is precluded when people recognize or even exaggerate their worst faults and behaviors. Even when acknowledging their faults, participants minimized the extent to which their bad characteristics re ected what kind of people they were, predicted that they would improve more in the future than would others with the same faults, claimed that others have done worse things to them than they have to others, and indicated that others are more likely to repeat the same bad behaviors in the future than themselves. Observers who read actors’descriptions of their own misdeeds and those of others also saw the things that were done to actors as worse than the things actors had done.
... More recently, however, research has shown that adults' implicit theories can also be actively self-regulated and thus influenced by internal factors (Leith et al., 2014;Steimer & Mata, 2016). In this research, motivational factors and in particular the motivation to see oneself in a positive light were identified as antecedents of implicit theory endorsement (Leith et al., 2014;Steimer & Mata, 2016). ...
... More recently, however, research has shown that adults' implicit theories can also be actively self-regulated and thus influenced by internal factors (Leith et al., 2014;Steimer & Mata, 2016). In this research, motivational factors and in particular the motivation to see oneself in a positive light were identified as antecedents of implicit theory endorsement (Leith et al., 2014;Steimer & Mata, 2016). Across seven studies Leith et al. (2014) demonstrated that when individuals were motivated by a goal (i.e., protecting the self or a relevant other), they would shift their implicit theory in the service of the goal. ...
... Recent research has extended these findings to motivated implicit theories of personality (Steimer & Mata, 2016). In their first two studies, adults in a high self-relevance condition reported differences in their beliefs about the malleability of their own strengths and weaknesses, with their weaknesses being perceived as more malleable than their strengths. ...
Article
We explored motivation, and specifically the motivation to see oneself in a positive light, as an antecedent of implicit theory endorsement in two youth sport contexts. Data from two studies that represent four samples are reported. We provide the first evidence of an antecedent of implicit theories in the physical domain and show that young people's implicit theories may be shaped by motivation and self-enhancement. In both contexts, we found that strengths were viewed as more malleable than their weaknesses, and that these differences disappeared when considering the same attributes in others. Moreover, in one context, we showed that desire to change a perceived weakness may act as a self-protective motive against the potentially negative effects of beliefs about its stability. The current study enhances our understanding of how implicit theories may be shaped in young people through identifying internal factors that promote the endorsement of these important motivational constructs.
... Dweck and her colleagues (Blackwell et al., 2007;Molden, Plaks, & Dweck, 2006;Murphy & Dweck, 2010) have demonstrated that implicit theories of intelligence are sensitive to intervention and can be manipulated through direct priming, however much of the research on implicit theories in PE has focused on how 'chronic' individual differences in theory endorsement are associated with a range of adaptive or maladaptive outcomes (Biddle et al., 2003;Ommundsen, 2001aOmmundsen, , 2001bOmmundsen, , 2003. In other areas of research, (personality, intelligence, social intelligence, and stereotypes), implicit theory endorsement has been found to change without direct message priming, suggesting fluidity in implicit theory endorsement (Leith et al., 2014;Steimer & Mata, 2016). When individuals were sufficiently motivated by a salient situational goal (protection of their self-concept or selfesteem, or self-enhancement), they shifted their implicit belief in service of the goal. ...
... When individuals were sufficiently motivated by a salient situational goal (protection of their self-concept or selfesteem, or self-enhancement), they shifted their implicit belief in service of the goal. Even though these shifts were small in both studies (Leith et al., 2014;Steimer & Mata, 2016), the shift in the strength of endorsement was strategic as it resulted in important consequences for individuals (i.e., reactions to failing a test, perceptions about their strengths and weaknesses or successes and failures, willingness to overlook past transgressions, and judgments about criminals' rehabilitation). These strategic shifts in implicit theories appear to play an important role in personal decisions and Leith and colleagues (2014) suggest that understanding when, how, and why individuals shift their implicit theory could provide useful information for designing interventions and making recommendations for practice. ...
... For example, students could be more receptive to an incremental message after a failure rather than a success, since they would not want to view a failure as something that was stable JTPE Vol. 36, No. 3, 2017 and enduring (Leith et al., 2014;Steimer & Mata, 2016). These issues with regards to the self-regulation of implicit beliefs have yet to be explored in PE but would appear fruitful and useful in developing our understanding of motivation in PE. ...
Article
Purpose In light of the extensive empirical evidence that implicit theories have important motivational consequences for young people across a range of educational settings we seek to provide a summary of, and personal reflection on, implicit theory research and practice in physical education (PE). Overview We first provide an introduction to the key constructs and theoretical propositions associated with implicit theories. We then include a brief summary of the research findings on ability beliefs in school PE, which we draw on to identify several key issues that we feel are crucial to furthering our understanding of this topic. We conclude by offering a number of ideas for future research and discuss the potential misinterpretation of implicit theories when applied to professional practice in PE. Conclusions We argue that researchers need to address more nuanced questions around implicit theories to prevent this area of inquiry stalling. Moreover, we need to provide teachers with more specific recommendations to help them integrate theory and research into practice.
... Individuals with growth mindset identify talent as innate yet requiring ). An individual's tendency to identify weakness as more malleable than strengths results in more effort focused on reducing weakness; in contrast, confidence in strengths reduces effort (Steimer & Mata, 2016). For someone with a fixed mindset, the focus is on the appearance of competence, with change occurring within predictable patterns; comparatively, those with a growth mindset facilitate effort and cohesion, resulting in enhanced production for areas dependent on teamwork (Dweck, 2009). ...
... So, when there is hope stemming from a growth mindset, problem-solution engagement occurs regardless of capacity. Steimer and Mata (2016) observed an interesting dynamic consisting of people believing their positive qualities do not change, but there is the ability to change weaknesses. Overall, Steimer and Mata found that change actions connect directly to self-perception. ...
Thesis
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What helps a client embrace change? Growth mindset and positive mental health aid psychotherapeutic change. Positive mental health facets aiding change include wellbeing, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, self-control, self-awareness, and spirituality. The literature review examined the formulation, principles, critique, and function of growth mindset construct within contexts of success, talent, neuroscience, trauma, impairment, and each positive mental health facet. The review indicated growth mindset impacts change. The objective involved testing for evidence of associated relationship between growth mindset and positive mental constructs using Pearson's correlation coefficient. Utilization occurred of eight self-rating measures, one each for wellbeing, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, self-control, self-awareness, and spirituality. Growth mindset measures received individual comparison with nine positive mental health measures. The null hypothesis was r ≤ .03. There were nine alternative hypotheses, one per positive mental health measure. The sample size was 148, obtained by internet survey distribution. The result was failure to reject the null hypotheses for all nine alternative hypotheses allowing for the following conclusions: no evidence of associated relationships; growth mindset and positive mental health constructs are meaningful and useful; belief alone does not lead to change effort. Recommended research includes qualitative case studies, quasi-experiment comparisons, development of enhanced measurements, or longitudinal observation. Keywords: growth mindset, fixed mindset, positive mental health, psychotherapeutic change, change beliefs
... Of particular relevance in the domain of forecasting, people are generally optimistic, such that they expect more positive than negative things to happen to them (Baker & Emery, 1993;Braga, Mata, Ferreira, & Sherman, 2017;Calderon, 1993;Hoch, 1985;Irwin, 1953;Marks, 1951;Markus & Nurius, 1986;Mitchell, Thompson, Peterson, & Cronk, 1997;Pruitt & Hoge, 1965;Shepperd, Ouellette, & Fernandez, 1996). For example, people have optimistic expectations about how their personality might develop: They expect their strengths to remain constant, but they believe that their weaknesses will improve in the future, and this difference is mediated by the desirability of the different traits, and whether or not people wish to change them (Steimer & Mata, 2016). ...
... future and less likely to experience negative ones when compared with other people, a comparative bias that is frequently designated as unrealistic optimism or optimistic bias (Larwood & Whittaker, 1977;Perloff & Fetzer, 1986;Weinstein, 1980). Similarly, in the aforementioned research on lay theories about personality development (Steimer & Mata, 2016), it was shown that while people tend to perceive their weaknesses to be more malleable than their strengths, the same does not hold for their beliefs about the personalities of other people. ...
Article
This research investigates the forecasts that people make about the duration of positive versus negative emotions, and tests whether these forecasts differ for self versus for others. Consistent with a motivated thinking framework, six studies show that people make optimistic, asymmetric forecasts that positive emotions will last longer than negative ones. However, for other people, wishful thinking is absent, and therefore people make less optimistic, more symmetric forecasts. Potential implications of these motivated forecasts and self–other differences are discussed.
... In support of this connection, we note that lay theories have been conceptualized as reflecting individuals' core assumptions about the world, and that such assumptions can impact self-judgments and predictions for personal outcomes (Chiu et al. 1997;Dweck et al. 1995;Molden and Dweck 2006;Plaks and Stetcher 2007;Plaks et al. 2009). Furthermore, lay theories can be influenced by individuals' motivation for self-enhancement (Steimer and Mata 2016), and stronger incremental lay theories have been linked with a greater willingness to denigrate one's past self (Ward and Wilson 2015). Lay theories also appear to be target-age specific, such that younger age is associated with more incremental lay theories concerning one's own and others' attributes (Neel and Lassetter 2015). ...
... If so, even individuals perceiving that their life is getting increasingly more satisfying over time may not attribute such changes to personal control or effort. In addition, we note that some lay theories research suggests that individuals are motivated to self-enhance through viewing their personal strengths as stable and their personal weaknesses as malleable and improvable, and that such motivations can impact individuals' expected change in their personality traits (Steimer and Mata 2016). Accordingly, differences between incremental and entity theorists in their perceived desirability of change in LS may weaken the overall association between lay theories for LS and the subjective LS trajectory slopes. ...
Article
Full-text available
Many individuals believe that life gets better and better over time. To examine the sources and significance of such beliefs, we examined lay theories for life satisfaction (LS) in relation to individuals’ beliefs concerning how their LS was unfolding over time. Two studies were conducted with online participants: one correlational (Study 1; N = 320, M age = 30.39, 55% male), the other experimental (Study 2; N = 321, M age = 30.46, 53% male). In both studies more incremental (vs. entity) lay theories were associated with more steeply inclining subjective trajectories for LS. Furthermore, both sets of beliefs had unique effects on individuals’ goal-striving toward a brighter future life, as well as psychological adjustment (self-efficacy, hope, optimism, positive affect, negative affect). Thus, lay theories and subjective trajectories for LS share a common assumption concerning change in life satisfaction over time. And each set of beliefs plays a unique role in positive functioning.
... Therefore, people might consider the IAT to be valid when it suggests that others are biased. There is abundant evidence of self-other differences in reactions to esteemthreatening information showing that people think in strategic ways to deflect negative conclusions for themselves, but not for others (e.g., Mata, Simão, Farias, & Steimer, 2018;Steimer & Mata, 2016). ...
Article
The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is the most popular instrument in implicit social cognition, with some scholars and practitioners calling for its use in applied settings. Yet, little is known about how people perceive the test's validity as a measure of their true attitudes toward members of other groups. Four experiments manipulated the desirability of the IAT's result and whether that result referred to one's own attitudes or other people's. Results showed a self-other asymmetry, such that people perceived a desirable IAT result to be more valid when it applied to themselves than to others, whereas the opposite held for undesirable IAT results. A fifth experiment demonstrated that these self-other differences influence how people react to the idea of using the IAT as a personnel selection tool. Experiment 6 tested whether the self-other effect was driven by motivation or expectations, finding evidence for motivated reasoning. All told, the current findings suggest potential barriers to implementing the IAT in applied settings. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
... Recent research by Steimer and Mata (2016) extended these findings by examining how the end of the history illusion affects motivated implicit theories of personality. They contend that people have motivated implicit theories about personality malleability such that perceived strengths in their personality would remain stable through the course of their lives while weaknesses in their personality would be more malleable. ...
Article
Full-text available
Two studies investigated how authenticity is believed to change over time. We tested for two possible trajectories: (1) A simple positive linear progression driven by self-enhancement motives and (2) a linear progression followed by a plateau indicative of the end of the history illusion. Across both studies, participants completed measures of perceived authenticity for different points in their lives. Study 1 was over a relatively short period of time. Study 2 was over the course of the lifespan. Both studies revealed upward linear trends suggesting that participants believe they are becoming more authentic over time. Study 2 also revealed that people perceive particularly high rates of change in the recent past and near future. The preponderance of evidence favored the self-enhancement perspective.
... There is some evidence that essentialist thinking sometimes represents motivated social cognition. Sometimes the motivation is primarily epistemic (e.g., driven by need for closure: Roets & Van Hiel, 2011) or selfserving, as demonstrated by evidence that people alter their theories about personal attributes in self-enhancing or self-protective ways (Leith et al., 2014;Steimer & Mata, 2016). However, sometimes the relevant motivation is social, driven by concerns about maintaining an advantageous position for one's group within existing arrangements. ...
Chapter
This chapter explores the origins of lay theories, with a focus on theories associated with the concept of psychological essentialism such as Dweckian entity theories. I argue that the origins of essentialist lay theories can be approached from cognitive, developmental, cultural, and social perspectives. Cognitively, these theories appear to arise from deep-seated and possibly innate ontological assumptions and mental shortcuts, such as the proposed “inherence heuristic.” Developmentally, they appear to be promoted by particular kinds of language use (e.g., generics) and particular forms of communication by caregivers. The content of essentialist lay theories derives in part from idioms that circulate within a particular culture, making culture an important dimension of any account of theory origins. Finally, essentialist theories are promoted by certain social arrangements, including motivated maintenance of social hierarchies. A full account of the neglected issue of where lay theories come from requires an appreciation of these diverse factors.
... The findings from Leith et al. (2014) were further supported by additional emerging research. Steimer and Mata (2016) asked people to list their strengths and weaknesses and to rate how likely those qualities were to change. Participants in their study professed a belief that only their own weaknesses were likely to change, but their own strengths were stable. ...
Chapter
People vary in their chronic beliefs about the malleability of human attributes such as intelligence and morality. These lay theories of change can play a powerful role in people’s self-regulation, person perception, and decisions. Although we acknowledge that people may have a lay theory to which they predominantly turn, we consider the ways that people may actively shift their endorsement of lay theories depending on the context and their goals. Drawing on a motivated reasoning perspective, we describe how people sometimes selectively gravitate toward a lay theory of change or stability depending on which viewpoint allows them to support their desired position or to satisfy an underlying motivation. We consider how people’s goals may influence their selective preference for lay theories in the context of personal, social, intergroup, and societal-level judgments.
... Furthermore, persisting in a task after encountering failure is likely to be avoided because doing so allows for the possibility of further confi rming their perceived inability (Henderson & Dweck, 1990 ;Nussbaum & Dweck, 2008 ). After experiencing failure, those with a fi xed mindset typically seek opportunities to work on things for which they have no previous record of failure and ideally in an area they have had past success with (Nussbaum & Dweck, 2008 ;Steimer & Mata, 2016 ). ...
... The fourth and final family is defensivenessconsisting of self-shielding strivings that are triggered by self-threat (e.g., selfhandicapping, defensive pessimism, discounting of unflattering feedback). Moreover, the number 60 was a conservative estimate, as it did not include a good deal of other strivings (for a review, see Alicke & Sedikides, 2011), with new strivings being identified all the time (Dunning, 2018;O'Brien & Kardas, 2016;Ong, Goodman, & Zaki, 2018;Guenther, Taylor, & Alicke, 2015;Steimer & Mata, 2016;Stephan, Shidlovski, & Sedikides, 2018; for a review, see Ferris, Johnson, & Sedikides, 2018). ...
Article
Self-enhancement and self-protection are constrained by reality. But to what extent? Broader constraints, often considered powerful, such as East-Asian culture, religion, mind-body practices, and prison environments are not particularly effective deterrents. Narrower constraints, also considered powerful, such as self-reflection and mnemic neglect, are not very helpful either. Deliberate and systematic laboratory efforts, both at the intrapersonal level (e.g., explanatory introspection, salience of one’s faults) and the interpersonal level (e.g., accountability, relationship closeness), can boast success in constraining self-enhancement and self-protection strivings, but the success is mixed, difficult to implement, and probably short-lived. The doggedness (potency and prevalence) of self-enhancement and self-protection are due to the functions or social benefits with which they are associated or confer: psychological health, goal pursuit and attainment, leadership election, and sexual selection. These functions are traceable to our species’ evolutionary past.
... Indeed, comparative biases are known to diminish or even disappear for loved ones (e.g., Mata, Simão, Farias, & Steimer, 2018;Pedregon, Farley, Davis, Wood, & Clark, 2012). And plenty of research on motivated reasoning and social comparison in general has examined and demonstrated robust self-other differences, such that people are much more flattering and optimistic about themselves than they are about other people (e.g., Epley & Dunning, 2000;O'Brien & Kardas, 2016;Ross & Wilson, 2002;Steimer & Mata, 2016). Therefore, the present research aims to contribute with a systematic investigation of how beliefs about the self might differ for oneself versus others. ...
Article
In three studies, this research found evidence for self-serving tendencies and a self–other asymmetry in the way people ascribe meaning to past behavior: Participants saw their past good deeds as more revealing of their present self than their past bad deeds (Studies 1–2), and they made infer-ences about their present personality from positive past behaviors, but not from negative ones (Study 3). In contrast, participants perceived the past behavior of others as diagnostic of their present personality (Study 2), and they made inferences about others’ present traits from that behavior (Study 3), regardless of whether it was positive or negative. In support of a moti-vational account, we also found evidence for moderated mediation of our effect (Study 2), such that the valence effect on ascribing meaning to the past was mediated by desirability only when self-relevance was high (i.e., for the self), not when it was low (i.e., for others). Implications of this self–other asymmetry are discussed.
... In particular, participants shifted toward an incremental view when they wanted to excuse a favored candidate for regrettable statements but toward an entity view when they wanted a candidate that they opposed to be permanently tainted for making deplorable statements. In a similar vein, people appear to lean toward entity theories that suggest that their strengths will remain stable; when contemplating personal weaknesses or undesirable traits, though, they gravitate toward incremental theories that infer that these weaknesses may be correctable (Steimer & Mata, 2016). In other words, people perceive their weaknesses to be more pliable than their strengths, a finding compatible with the classic self-serving bias (Miller & Ross, 1975) and the notion of preference consistency (Jain, 2003). ...
Article
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Implicit theories are the beliefs that individuals hold regarding the nature of human and nonhuman attributes, as well as more global phenomena. Over the past three decades, social and consumer psychologists have garnered a rich set of findings from investigating the processing and judgmental impact of implicit theories on various facets of people's day‐to‐day lives. This review begins with a brief summary of the history of implicit theory research before explicating its current state in consumer psychology. The review categorizes the current, and rather fragmented, landscape of the consumer psychology of implicit theories into three broad areas: brands, persuasion, and consumption behaviors. We conclude our review by contributing to an expanding dialogue regarding the future of consumer research pertaining to implicit theories.
... As Banerjee and Bloom (2017) Thus, a self-other difference should be observed: People should make karmic forecasts for others, expecting good outcomes for good-doers and bad ones for evil-doers, whereas for themselves forecasts should be insensitive to the goodness of their past actions. This hypothesis is in line with a host of self-other differences in the motivated reasoning literature, whereby people differ in the forecasts that they make for others and for themselves (i.e., more optimistic for self than others; e.g., Larwood & Whittaker, 1977;Mata et al., 2019;Perloff & Fetzer, 1986;Steimer & Mata, 2016;Weinstein, 1980). This hypothesis was tested regarding two forecasting dimensions: probability and time. ...
... Moreover, our assessment of beliefs about the malleability of personality may have been too general. Given that a person's personality is comprised of different traits, people may also hold different beliefs about how malleable each of these traits is (Steimer & Mata, 2016). For example, people may feel that agreeableness is easier to change simply through changing certain overt behaviors (e.g., smiling more, helping other people more, disagreeing less, and giving in more often), whereas the inner experiences that come with a lack of emotional stability may feel more difficult to overcome. ...
Preprint
People differ from each other in their typical patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion and these patterns are considered to constitute their personalities (Funder, 2001). For various reasons, for example because certain trait levels may help to attain certain goals or fulfill certain social roles, people may experience that their actual trait levels are different from their ideal trait levels. In this study, we investigated (1) the impact of age on discrepancies between actual and ideal Big Five personality trait levels and (2) the impact of these discrepancies on personality trait changes across a period of two years. We use data of a large, nationally representative, and age-diverse sample (N = 4,057, 17-94 years, M = 53 years). Results largely confirmed previously reported age effects on actual personality trait levels but were sometimes more complex. Ideal trait levels exceeded actual trait levels more strongly for younger compared to older adults. Unexpectedly, neither ideal trait levels nor their interaction with beliefs about the extent to which personality is malleable vs. fixed predicted trait change over two years (controlling for actual trait levels). We conclude that ideal-actual trait level discrepancies may provide an impetus for change but that they appear to neither alone nor in combination with the belief that personality trait change is possible suffice to produce such change. We discuss commitment, self-efficacy, and strategy knowledge as potential additional predictors of trait change.
... Additionally, thanks to the research on beliefs about malleability (e.g. Steimer & Mata, 2016), it would be beneficial to investigate whether self-insecurity is associated with applying entity theories to one's weaknesses and, if so, whether it could be influenced by the induction of incremental theories. Future research could also investigate whether the extent to which self-insecurity is maladaptive depends on the type of weaknesses -for example, weaknesses one cannot change versus weaknesses one can change. ...
Article
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Studies have found that self-security, defined as the acceptance of one’s own weaknesses, is associated with many important outcomes. The present research examined the link between self-insecurity (the rejection of one’s own weaknesses) and unpleasant repetitive thinking, a transdiagnostic process that appears to be a major risk factor for internalizing psychopathology. In Study 1, we examined the link at two levels: between-individuals (N = 158 undergraduates) and within-individuals (using daily diary methods). At both levels, self-insecurity was significantly associated with repetitive thinking, even after simultaneously accounting for neuroticism/NA and self-esteem. Study 2 (N = 280 undergraduates) replicated Study 1’s findings. Additionally, Study 2 assessed repetitive thinking using reports by participants’ close others: self-insecurity was significantly associated with close-others-reported repetitive thinking.
... Tamir et al., 2007), personality (e.g. Steimer and Mata, 2016), intelligence (e.g. Blackwell et al., 2007), and health (Bunda and Busseri, 2019;Zhang and Kou, 2021;. ...
Article
Engaging in a healthy lifestyle could be helpful to decrease lifestyle-related health risks and bring long-term health benefits. This research investigated how implicit theories of body weight influence people’s engagement in healthy lifestyle among young adults in China. The results suggested that implicit theories of body weight significantly influence people’s engagement in heathy eating behaviors and physical activity. Self-control mediated the effect of implicit (incremental) theories of body weight on people’s engagement in healthy eating. Implications of the current research for understanding how to promote engagement in healthy lifestyle and directions for future research are discussed.
... Consistent with extant research on self-serving attributions (e.g. Weary-Bradley, 1978; see also Steimer & Mata, 2016), and in-group biases (e.g. Forsyth & Schlenker, 1977;Zaccaro et al., 1987), when the streak was positive, the wishful prediction that it would continue was attributed to the qualities of the scoring team. ...
Article
The present paper explores the role of motivation to observe a certain outcome in people's predictions, causal attributions, and beliefs about a streak of binary outcomes (basketball scoring shots). In two studies we found that positive streaks (points scored by the participants' favourite team) lead participants to predict the streak's continuation (belief in the hot hand), but negative streaks lead to predictions of its end (gambler's fallacy). More importantly, these wishful predictions are supported by strategic attributions and beliefs about how and why a streak might unfold. Results suggest that the effect of motivation on predictions is mediated by a serial path via causal attributions to the teams at play and belief in the hot hand.
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Disciplinary incidents at U.S. public middle- and high-schools are a public policy concern. Although businesses popularly give credence to leaders’ subjective intelligence, principals’ reports of their schools’ strengths and weaknesses are questioned. To determine whether principals’ reports carry legitimacy as indicators of student offenses, the current study utilized a nationally representative survey of principals who reported on their sense of the institution and the number of disciplinary incidents in the past year (N = 1,872; replication cohort, N = 1,833). Findings showed that the more institutional shortcomings a principal endorsed, the higher total number of incidents occurred, even after controlling for institutional strength and several indicators of school crime. These findings have policy and intervention implications for improving student outcomes, and so would be of interest to funding agencies, school administrators, teachers, and parents.
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The relationship between conscientiousness and creativity remains equivocal. This is surprising because conscientiousness is a good predictor of job performance across most criteria and occupations. In this longitudinal study, I found support for the achievement striving and the dependability aspects of conscientiousness affecting team member creativity in different ways. Specifically, the achievement striving aspect of conscientiousness positively predicts creative self‐efficacy, but the dependability aspect negatively predicts creative self‐efficacy. Conversely, dependability positively predicts teamwork self‐efficacy, while achievement striving is unrelated to teamwork self‐efficacy. Creative self‐efficacy partially mediates between achievement striving and team member creativity. Both creative self‐efficacy and teamwork self‐efficacy mediate between dependability and team member creativity.
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Individuals vary in their mindsets—their implicit beliefs regarding the malleability of human attributes in general, including their own. Because individuals’ mindsets influence their self-regulating activities, it is assumable that employees' mindsets will influence how they respond to feedback. Using a policy-capturing approach, I examine how four different feedback-related factors may vary in their influence and how these factors interact in relation to stated motives after feedback. My findings suggest that those who believe human attributes can change through effort are more likely to report wanting similar feedback and to improve after receiving negative feedback or when the feedback comes from a highly credible source. The opposite was found for those who believe attributes are fixed, but those with a fixed mindset were sensitive to the feedback standard. My results suggest that employees’ beliefs about their ability influence how negative feedback affects employees’ motivation to receive diagnostic information and to improve.
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The goal of the current manuscript is to embed the theory of mindsets about malleability in workplace contexts. We first define fixed-growth mindsets and the methods that have to date been used to study them. We then briefly review the domains in which mindsets have been documented to shape outcomes meaningfully, linking each to exciting research questions that we hope will soon be studied in workplace contexts. We also highlight some of the fascinating, new questions scholars can study by considering how mindsets might shape outcomes across a diversity of workplaces (e.g., the workforce of low wage and vulnerable populations). We further propose that studying mindsets in workplace contexts can develop mindset theory. We first ask whether workplace contexts provide opportunities to test for moderation on mindset expression. Second, we see opportunity for studying moderation of mindset processes – evaluating whether the psychological processes through which mindsets shape outcomes may differ based on contextual factors that vary across workplaces. We argue that investigating these possibilities will advance both the theory of mindsets about malleability and the study of human flourishing in the workplace. We invite scholars to join us in this endeavour.
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A fast-growing body of evidence suggests that people have difficulties in envisioning how their future selves will look like and behave. So, what determines that one’s future self feels like a dissimilar stranger or exactly the same person? Here we review relevant work and propose a three-factor framework in an effort to organize and highlight important findings. Our review suggests that who we are, what dimension we focus on, as well as the cognitive and affective states we are in, impact the way we envision our future self being similar or different from our current self. We conclude with remaining questions that are yet to be explored.
Chapter
Implicit theories are a priori beliefs about the features and properties of objects, including humans. In this chapter, I describe research examining the effects of implicit theories on different points of the social information processing stream. Much of this research has focused on comparing people with an “entity theory” (the belief that human qualities are fixed) to people with an “incremental theory” (the belief that human qualities are malleable). I also review research that has focused on people's theories about intentionality, as well as their theories about genetics. I describe each type of theory's influence on such processes as attention allocation, encoding, retrieval, and attributional reasoning. I also summarize evidence indicating that the activation of an implicit theory creates a motivated bias that privileges information that is consistent with the theory. Taken together, I suggest ways in which taking an implicit theories approach sheds new light on foundational social information processes.
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Much of psychology focuses on universal principles of thought and action. Although an extremely productive pursuit, this approach, by describing only the "average person," risks describing no one in particular. This article discusses an alternate approach that complements interests in universal principles with analyses of the unique psychological meaning that individuals find in their experiences and interactions. Rooted in research on social cognition, this approach examines how people's lay theories about the stability or malleability of human attributes alter the meaning they give to basic psychological processes such as self-regulation and social perception. Following a review of research on this lay theories perspective in the field of social psychology, the implications of analyzing psychological meaning for other fields such as developmental, cultural, and personality psychology are discussed.
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164 undergraduates rated the degree to which various traits represented desirable characteristics and the degree to which it was possible for a person to exert control over each of these characteristics. From these initial ratings, 154 trait adjectives for which 4 levels of desirability were crossed with 2 levels of controllability were selected. 88 undergraduates then rated the degree to which each of these traits characterized the self and the average college student. Results support the prediction that self-ratings in relation to average college student ratings would be increasingly positive as traits increased in desirability and that in conditions of high desirability, self-ratings in relation to average college student ratings would be greater for high- than for low-controllable traits, whereas in conditions of low desirability the opposite would occur. Results are discussed in terms of the adaptive advantages of maintaining a global self-concept that implies that positive characteristics are under personal control and that negative characteristics are caused by factors outside of personal control. Mean preratings of desirability and controllability are appended. (29 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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People differ in their implicit theories about the malleability of characteristics such as intelligence and personality. These relatively chronic theories can be experimentally altered, and can be affected by parent or teacher feedback. Little is known about whether people might selectively shift their implicit beliefs in response to salient situational goals. We predicted that, when motivated to reach a desired conclusion, people might subtly shift their implicit theories of change and stability to garner supporting evidence for their desired position. Any motivated context in which a particular lay theory would help people to reach a preferred directional conclusion could elicit shifts in theory endorsement. We examine a variety of motivated situational contexts across 7 studies, finding that people's theories of change shifted in line with goals to protect self and liked others and to cast aspersions on disliked others. Studies 1-3 demonstrate how people regulate their implicit theories to manage self-view by more strongly endorsing an incremental theory after threatening performance feedback or memories of failure. Studies 4-6 revealed that people regulate the implicit theories they hold about favored and reviled political candidates, endorsing an incremental theory to forgive preferred candidates for past gaffes but leaning toward an entity theory to ensure past failings "stick" to opponents. Finally, in Study 7, people who were most threatened by a previously convicted child sex offender (i.e., parents reading about the offender moving to their neighborhood) gravitated most to the entity view that others do not change. Although chronic implicit theories are undoubtedly meaningful, this research reveals a previously unexplored source of fluidity by highlighting the active role people play in managing their implicit theories in response to goals. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
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We measured the personalities, values, and preferences of more than 19,000 people who ranged in age from 18 to 68 and asked them to report how much they had changed in the past decade and/or to predict how much they would change in the next decade. Young people, middle-aged people, and older people all believed they had changed a lot in the past but would change relatively little in the future. People, it seems, regard the present as a watershed moment at which they have finally become the person they will be for the rest of their lives. This "end of history illusion" had practical consequences, leading people to overpay for future opportunities to indulge their current preferences.
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This study supported hypotheses derived from Dweck's model about the implications of two implicit self-theories: Entity theorists believe their intelligence is fixed, whereas Incremental theorists believe their intelligence can be increased. Findings showed no normative change in implicit self-theories from high school through college and relatively stable individual differences during college. Entity theorists tended to adopt performance goals, whereas Incremental theorists tended to adopt learning goals. In terms of attributions, affect, and behavioral response to challenge, Entity theorists displayed a helpless response pattern and Incremental theorists displayed a mastery-oriented response pattern. Finally, Entity theorists declined in self-esteem during college whereas Incremental theorists increased self-esteem, and path analyses showed that this effect was mediated by goal orientation and the helpless versus mastery response patterns.
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Adolescents are often resistant to interventions that reduce aggression in children. At the same time, they are developing stronger beliefs in the fixed nature of personal characteristics, particularly aggression. The present intervention addressed these beliefs. A randomized field experiment with a diverse sample of Grades 9 and 10 students (ages 14-16, n = 230) tested the impact of a 6-session intervention that taught an incremental theory (a belief in the potential for personal change). Compared to no-treatment and coping skills control groups, the incremental theory group behaved significantly less aggressively and more prosocially 1 month postintervention and exhibited fewer conduct problems 3 months postintervention. The incremental theory and the coping skills interventions also eliminated the association between peer victimization and depressive symptoms.
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People construct idiosyncratic, self-serving models of excellence or success in social domains, in part, to bolster self-esteem. In 3 studies, participants tended to articulate self-serving theories of success under experimental conditions in which pressures to maintain self-esteem were present, but not under conditions in which such pressures were absent. Participants assigned to role-play being a therapist were more self-serving in their assessments of the characteristics needed to be a "successful therapist" than were participants assigned to observe the role play (Study 1). Participants failing at an intellectual task articulated self-serving theories about the attributes crucial to success in marriage (Study 2) and evaluated targets similar to themselves more favorably than they did dissimilar targets (Study 3), tendencies not observed for participants succeeding at the task. Discussion centers on issues for future research suggested by these findings. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Five experiments supported the hypothesis that peoples' implicit theories about the fixedness versus malleability of human attributes (entity versus incremental theories) predict differences in degree of social stereotyping. Relative to those holding an incremental theory, people holding an entity theory made more stereotypical trait judgments of ethnic and occupational groups (Experiments 1, 2, and 5 ) and formed more extreme trait judgments of novel groups ( Experiment 3 ). Implicit theories also predicted the degree to which people attributed stereotyped traits to inborn group qualities versus environmental forces (Experiment 2). Manipulating implicit theories affected level of stereotyping (Experiment 4), suggesting that implicit theories can play a causal role. Finally, implicit theories predicted unique and substantial variance in stereotype endorsement after controlling for the contributions of other stereotype-relevant individual difference variables (Experiment 5). These results highlight the importance of people's basic assumptions about personality in stereotyping. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Introduces the concept of possible selves (PSs) to complement current conceptions of self-knowledge. PSs represent individuals' ideas of what they might become, what they would like to become, and what they are afraid of becoming, and thus provide a conceptual link beteen cognition and motivation. PSs are the cognitive components of hopes, fears, goals, and threats; they give the specific self-relevant form, meaning, organization, and direction to these dynamics. It is suggested that PSs function as incentives for future behavior and to provide an evaluative and interpretive context for the current view of self. The nature and function of PSs and their role in addressing several persistent problems (e.g., the stability and malleability of the self, the unity of the self, self-distortion, the relationship between the self-concept and behavior) are discussed. (143 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Recent research has indicated that a perceiver's expectancies about a target person can lead that perceiver to channel social interaction with the target in such a way that the target person's behavioral response may confirm the original expectancy, thus producing a self-fulfulling prophecy. It is suggested that once the target person behaves, the target may undergo a self-perception process and internalize the very disposition that the perceiver expected him or her to possess. Such a change in the target person's self-concept is apt to affect his or her behavior in future and different situations not involving the original perceiver. To test this hypothesis, 40 undergraduates first participated in an initial interaction with the experimenter, which purposefully was biased to produce either introverted or extraverted behavior on the part of the target S. On both a subsequent self-description measure and on a variety of behavioral measures involving a subsequent interaction with a confederate, Ss displayed evidence of having internalized the dispositions implied by their earlier responses during this initial interaction. Implications for the self-fulfilling prophecy are discussed. (29 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This research sought to integrate C. S. Dweck and E. L. Leggett's (1988) model with attribution theory. Three studies tested the hypothesis that theories of intelligence—the belief that intelligence is malleable (incremental theory) versus fixed (entity theory)—would predict (and create) effort versus ability attributions, which would then mediate mastery-oriented coping. Study 1 revealed that, when given negative feedback, incremental theorists were more likely than entity theorists to attribute to effort. Studies 2 and 3 showed that incremental theorists were more likely than entity theorists to take remedial action if performance was unsatisfactory. Study 3, in which an entity or incremental theory was induced, showed that incremental theorists' remedial action was mediated by their effort attributions. These results suggest that implicit theories create the meaning framework in which attributions occur and are important for understanding motivation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Two experiments are reported which examine causal attributions in achievement-related contexts Subjects were provided with information about an achievement-related activity (the immediate outcome of the action, percentage of prior success and failure at the same and similar tasks, percentage of success and failure of others, time spent at the task, task structure, and whether the achievement activity was undertaken by oneself or others) The subjects were required to attribute the immediate performance outcome (success or failure) to the causal factors of ability, effort, task difficulty, and luck The data revealed that the achievement cues were systematically utilized both as main effects and in configural patterns Included among the significant findings were that success is more likely to be attributed to internal factors (ability and effort) than is failure, consistency with the performance of others results in task ascriptions, whereas inconsistency is attributed to ability, effort and luck, and consistency with one's own past performance is ascribed to ability and task difficulty, while inconsistent outcomes give rise to luck and effort attributions Individual data analyses revealed considerable systematic yet idiosyncratic usage of the achievement information The results suggest a confounding in the locus of control literature, and new directions for the study of achievement motivation
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Perceivers’ shared theories about the social world have long featured prominently in social inference research. Here, we investigate how fundamental differences in such theories influence basic inferential processes. Past work has typically shown that integrating multiple interpretations of behavior during social inference requires cognitive resources. However, three studies that measured or manipulated people’s beliefs about the stable versus dynamic nature of human attributes (i.e., their entity vs. incremental theory, respectively) qualify these past findings. Results revealed that, when interpreting others’ actions, perceivers’ theories selectively facilitate the consideration of interpretations that are especially theory-relevant. While experiencing cognitive load, entity theorists continued to incorporate information about stable dispositions (but not about dynamic social situations) in their social inferences, whereas incremental theorists continued to incorporate information about dynamic social situations (but not about stable traits). Implications of these results for how perceivers find meaning in behavior are discussed.
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This research shows that the motivation to posses a desired characteristic (or to avoid an undesired one) results in self-perceptions that guide people's use of base rate in the Lawyer-Engineer problem (Kahneman & Tversky, 1973). In four studies, participants induced to believe (or recall, Exp. 2) that a rational cognitive style is success-conducive (or an intuitive cognitive style failure-conducive) subsequently viewed themselves as more rational and relied more on base rate in their probability estimates than those induced to believe that a rational cognitive style is failure-conducive (or an intuitive cognitive style success-conducive). These findings show that the desired self had an influence on reasoning in the self-unrelated lawyer-engineer task, since the use of base rates was mediated by changes in participants' perceptions of their own rationality. These findings therefore show that the desired self, through the working self-concept that it entails, constitutes another factor influencing people's use of distinct modes of reasoning.
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Much recent research suggests that willpower—the capacity to exert self-control—is a limited resource that is depleted after exertion. We propose that whether depletion takes place or not depends on a person’s belief about whether willpower is a limited resource. Study 1 found that individual differences in lay theories about willpower moderate ego-depletion effects: People who viewed the capacity for self-control as not limited did not show diminished self-control after a depleting experience. Study 2 replicated the effect, manipulating lay theories about willpower. Study 3 addressed questions about the mechanism underlying the effect. Study 4, a longitudinal field study, found that theories about willpower predict change in eating behavior, procrastination, and self-regulated goal striving in depleting circumstances. Taken together, the findings suggest that reduced self-control after a depleting task or during demanding periods may reflect people’s beliefs about the availability of willpower rather than true resource depletion.
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Why and when do people disagree on their conceptions or prototypes of social categories? In 6 studies, it was revealed that such differences tend to be self-serving. Ss tended to endorse self-descriptive attributes as central to their prototypes of desirable social concepts and emphasize features that were not self-descriptive in their conceptions of undesirable categories. Such disagreements were constrained to attributes potentially central to the domain in question and did not occur for clearly peripheral features. Self-serving differences in prototype structure were exhibited in social information processing tasks and led to disagreements in judgments of others. Potential mechanisms underlying the development of these egocentric cognitive structures and their implications for self-serving judgments of ability are discussed.
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This article presents a theory of how different types of discrepancies between self-state representa- tions are related to different kinds of emotional vulnerabilities. One domain of the self (actual; ideal; ought) and one standpoint on the self (own; significant other) constitute each type of self-state representation. It is proposed that different types of self-discrepancies represent different types of negative psychological situations that are associated with different kinds of discomfort. Discrepan- cies between the actual/own self-state (i.e., the self-concept) and ideal self-stales (i.e., representations of an individual's beliefs about his or her own or a significant other's hopes, wishes, or aspirations for the individual) signify the absence of positive outcomes, which is associated with dejection-related emotions (e.g., disappointment, dissatisfaction, sadness). In contrast, discrepancies between the ac- tual/own self-state and ought self-states (i.e., representations of an individual's beliefs about his or her own or a significant other's beliefs about the individual's duties, responsibilities, or obligations) signify the presence of negative outcomes, which is associated with agitation-related emotions (e.g., fear, threat, restlessness). Differences in both the relative magnitude and the accessibility of individu- als' available types of self-discrepancies are predicted to be related to differences in the kinds of discomfort people are likely to experience. Correlational and experimental evidence supports the predictions of the model. Differences between serf-discrepancy theory and (a) other theories of in- compatible self-beliefs and (b) actual self negativity (e.g., low self-esteem) are discussed.
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Two studies with 129 undergraduates examined whether the type of emotional change experienced by individuals is influenced by the magnitude and accessibility of the different types of self-discrepancies they possess. In both studies, Ss filled out a measure of self-discrepancy a few weeks prior to the experimental session. Ss were asked to list up to 10 attributes each for their actual self, their ideal self (their own or others' hopes and goals for them), and their ought self (their own or others' beliefs about their duty and obligations). In Study 1, Ss asked to imagine a positive or negative event who had a predominant actual–ideal discrepancy felt more dejected on a mood measure and wrote more slowly on a writing-speed task in the negative event condition than in the positive event condition. Ss with a predominant actual–ought discrepancy felt more agitated and wrote more quickly in the negative event condition. In Study 2, Ss high or low in both kinds of discrepancies were either asked to discuss their own and their parents' hopes and goals for them (ideal priming) or asked to discuss their own and their parents' beliefs concerning their duty and obligations (ought priming). For high-discrepancy Ss, ideal priming increased their dejection, whereas ought priming increased their agitation. (59 ref)
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Goals with a promotion focus versus a prevention focus are distinguished. Chronic ideal goals (hopes and aspirations) have a promotion focus, whereas ought goals (duties and responsibilities) have a prevention focus. The hypothesis that emotional responses to goal attainment vary as a function of promotion versus prevention goal strength (conceptualized as goal accessibility) was tested in correlational studies relating chronic goal attainment (self-congruencies or self-discrepancies) to emotional frequency and intensity (Studies 1-3) and in an experimental study relating immediate goal attainment (i.e., success or failure) to emotional intensity (Study 4). All studies found that goal attainment yielded greater cheerfulness-dejection responses when promotion focus was stronger and greater quiescence-agitation responses when prevention focus was stronger.
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Lay dispositionism refers to lay people's tendency to use traits as the basic unit of analysis in social perception (L. Ross & R. E. Nisbett, 1991). Five studies explored the relation between the practices indicative of lay dispositionism and people's implicit theories about the nature of personal attributes. As predicted, compared with those who believed that personal attributes are malleable (incremental theorists), those who believed in fixed traits (entity theorists) used traits or trait-relevant information to make stronger future behavioral predictions (Studies 1 and 2) and made stronger trait inferences from behavior (Study 3). Moreover, the relation between implicit theories and lay dispositionism was found in both the United States (a more individualistic culture) and Hong Kong (a more collectivistic culture), suggesting this relation to be generalizable across cultures (Study 4). Finally, an experiment in which implicit theories were manipulated provided preliminary evidence for the possible causal role of implicit theories in lay dispositionism (Study 5).
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People approach pleasure and avoid pain. To discover the true nature of approach-avoidance motivation, psychologists need to move beyond this hedonic principle to the principles that underlie the different ways that it operates. One such principle is regulatory focus, which distinguishes self-regulation with a promotion focus (accomplishments and aspirations) from self-regulation with a prevention focus (safety and responsibilities). This principle is used to reconsider the fundamental nature of approach-avoidance, expectancy-value relations, and emotional and evaluative sensitivities. Both types of regulatory focus are applied to phenomena that have been treated in terms of either promotion (e.g., well-being) or prevention (e.g., cognitive dissonance). Then, regulatory focus is distinguished from regulatory anticipation and regulatory reference, 2 other principles underlying the different ways that people approach pleasure and avoid pain.
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People typically believe they are more likely to engage in selfless, kind, and generous behaviors than their peers, a result that is both logically and statistically suspect. However, this oft-documented tendency presents an important ambiguity. Do people feel "holier than thou" because they harbor overly cynical views of their peers (but accurate impressions of themselves) or overly charitable views of themselves (and accurate impressions of their peers)? Four studies suggested it was the latter. Participants consistently overestimated the likelihood that they would act in generous or selfless ways, whereas their predictions of others were considerably more accurate. Two final studies suggest this divergence in accuracy arises, in part, because people are unwilling to consult population base rates when predicting their own behavior but use this diagnostic information more readily when predicting others'.
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This research sought to integrate C. S. Dweck and E. L. Leggett's (1988) model with attribution theory. Three studies tested the hypothesis that theories of intelligence-the belief that intelligence is malleable (incremental theory) versus fixed (entity theory)-would predict (and create) effort versus ability attributions, which would then mediate mastery-oriented coping. Study 1 revealed that, when given negative feedback, incremental theorists were more likely than entity theorists to attribute to effort. Studies 2 and 3 showed that incremental theorists were more likely than entity theorists to take remedial action if performance was unsatisfactory. Study 3, in which an entity or incremental theory was induced, showed that incremental theorists' remedial action was mediated by their effort attributions. These results suggest that implicit theories create the meaning framework in which attributions occur and are important for understanding motivation.
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I describe a test of linear moderated mediation in path analysis based on an interval estimate of the parameter of a function linking the indirect effect to values of a moderator—a parameter that I call the index of moderated mediation. This test can be used for models that integrate moderation and mediation in which the relationship between the indirect effect and the moderator is estimated as linear, including many of the models described by Edwards and Lambert (200710. Edwards, J.R., & Lambert, L.S. (2007). Methods for integrating moderation and mediation: A general analytical framework using moderated path analysis. Psychological Methods, 12, 1–22.[CrossRef], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®]View all references) and Preacher, Rucker, and Hayes (200743. Preacher, K.J., Rucker, D.D., & Hayes, A.F. (2007). Assessing moderated mediation hypotheses: Theory, methods, and prescriptions. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 42, 185–227.[Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®]View all references) as well as extensions of these models to processes involving multiple mediators operating in parallel or in serial. Generalization of the method to latent variable models is straightforward. Three empirical examples describe the computation of the index and the test, and its implementation is illustrated using Mplus and the PROCESS macro for SPSS and SAS.
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Two studies suggest that the content of people's self-conceptions at a given time may be influenced by the perceived desirability of different attributes. Subjects induced to theorize that a given attribute—extraversion or introversion—was related to academic success came to view themselves as possessing relatively higher degrees of that attribute. We propose that motivation may provoke such changes in temporary self-conceptions by guiding the memory search among the wide array of potentially relevant self-conceptions and leading to the activation of only those self-conceptions that are consistent with the currently desired view of the self.
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In their research, the authors have identified individuals who believe that a particular trait (intelligence, personality, or moral character) is a fixed disposition (entity theorists) and have contrasted them with those who believe the trait to be a malleable quality (incremental theorists). Research shows that an entity theory consistently predicts (a) global dispositional inferences for self and other; even in the face of limited evidence, as well as (b) an over reliance on dispositional information in making other judgments and decisions. An incremental theory, by contrast, predicts inferences that are more specific, conditional, and provisional The implicit beliefs seem to represent not only different theories about the nature of traits but also different mental models about how personality works-what the units of analysis are and how they enter into causal relations. Implications for the literature on person perception are discussed.
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Previous research has shown that cognitive processing and achievement strategies are important for motor learning and achievement. Despite this, there are few studies identifying the role of motivational beliefs in the cognitive self-regulation of students' learning in physical education classes. This study reports the results of multivariate analyses of the relationships between thirteen to fourteen-year-old secondary school pupils' (n=343) implicit theories of ability and their self-regulated learning in PE. Self-regulation measures included metacognitive/elaboration strategies, effort regulation and adaptive help seeking. Results revealed consistent relationships between motivational beliefs and pupils' use of self-regulation strategies. The results underscore the educational value of reappraising pupils' implicit theories of ability, making them believe in the modifiability of ability through effort and hard work and learning. The results illustrate the importance of linking pupils' motivational and cognitive characteristics to provide a fuller understanding of their self-regulation of learning in physical education.
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In this article, I argue that the basic building blocks of social cognition, the schemata people possess of social traits and concepts, are shaped by motivations to retain flattering images of the self As such, motivational influences on social cognition are more subtle and pervasive than usually acknowledged in the social cognitive literature. I review research showing that people possess self-flattering schemata of social concepts. I describe experimental work demonstrating that it is, indeed, the motivation to maintain self-worth prompting the self-serving nature of these schemata, detailing how these studies withstand the usual cognitive reinterpretations offered for motivational findings. Finally, I suggest that the field of social cognition reconsider the issues and insights of the New Look tradition, which concerned itself first and foremost with how people reconciled incoming social information with the perceiver's goals, wishes, fears, and desires.
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In this target article, we present evidence for a new model of individual differences in judgments and reactions. The model holds that people's implicit theories about human attributes structure the way they understand and react to human actions and outcomes. We review research showing that when people believe that attributes (such as intelligence or moral character) are fixed, trait-like entities (an entity theory), they tend to understand outcomes and actions in terms of these fixed traits (''I failed the test because I am dumb'' or ''He stole the bread because he is dishonest''). In contrast, when people believe that attributes are more dynamic, malleable, and developable (an incremental theory), they tend refocus less on broad traits and, instead, tend to understand outcomes and actions in terms of more specific behavioral or psychological mediators (''I failed the test because of my effort or strategy'' or ''He stole the bread because he was desperate''). The two frameworks also appear to foster different reactions: helpless versus mastery-oriented responses to personal setbacks and an emphasis on retribution versus education or rehabilitation for transgressions. These findings are discussed in terms of their implications for personality, motivation, and social perception.
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Debates about human nature often revolve around what is built in. However, the hallmark of human nature is how much of a person's identity is not built in; rather, it is humans' great capacity to adapt, change, and grow. This nature versus nurture debate matters-not only to students of human nature-but to everyone. It matters whether people believe that their core qualities are fixed by nature (an entity theory, or fixed mindset) or whether they believe that their qualities can be developed (an incremental theory, or growth mindset). In this article, I show that an emphasis on growth not only increases intellectual achievement but can also advance conflict resolution between long-standing adversaries, decrease even chronic aggression, foster cross-race relations, and enhance willpower. I close by returning to human nature and considering how it is best conceptualized and studied. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
Two studies examined the role of implicit theories of personality in the relation between actual - ideal self-discrepancies and self-esteem. Replicating previous work, we found that those with greater actual - ideal self-discrepancies reported lower self-esteem. Moreover, we hypothesized that this outcome would be especially stronger for those possessing an entity theory of personality (i.e., believing that personality is relatively fixed and unchangeable) than for those possessing an incremental theory of personality (i.e., believing that personality is relatively flexible and malleable). Both studies supported this prediction, using either a nomothetic measure of actual - ideal self-discrepancy (Study 1) or an idiographic measure of actual - ideal self-discrepancy (Study 2). In other words, the relation between self-discrepancy and self-evaluation was stronger for entity theorists than for incremental theorists. Implications of these findings for topics ranging from emotional regulation to educational settings are discussed.
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Past work has documented and described major patterns of adaptive and maladaptive behavior: the mastery-oriented and the helpless patterns. In this article, we present a research-based model that accounts for these patterns in terms of underlying psychological processes. The model specifies how individuals' implicit theories orient them toward particular goals and how these goals set up the different patterns. Indeed, we show how each feature (cognitive, affective, and behavioral) of the adaptive and maladaptive patterns can be seen to follow directly from different goals. We then examine the generality of the model and use it to illuminate phenomena in a wide variety of domains. Finally, we place the model in its broadest context and examine its implications for our understanding of motivational and personality processes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Experiments testing the self-serving bias (SSB; taking credit for personal success but blaming external factors for personal failure) have used a multitude of moderators (i.e., role, task importance, outcome expectancies, self-esteem, achievement motivation, self-focused attention, task choice, perceived task difficulty, interpersonal orientation, status, affect, locus of control, gender, and task type). The present meta-analytic review established the viability and pervasiveness of the SSB and, more important, organized the 14 moderators just listed under the common theoretical umbrella of self-threat. According to the self-threat model, the high self-threat level of each moderator is associated with a larger display of the SSB than the low self-threat level. The model was supported: Self-threat magnifies the SSB. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Examines the empirical evidence related to the notion of self-serving biases in causal attributions. D. T. Miller and M. Ross's (see record 1975-21041-001) reinterpretations of data that presumably reflect bias are discussed. The studies reviewed show relatively strong support for the causal asymmetry generally cited as evidence for self-serving, or defensive, attributions. Futhermore, a broadened self-serving bias formulation is presented, which suggests that under certain conditions, esteem needs may be best served by making counterdefensive attributions. Conditions that may be expected to elicit defensive or counterdefensive attributions are delineated. (46 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Implicit theories about the malleability of human attributes have proven to be valuable predictors of cognitions, affects, and behavior in the field of achievement motivation and social judgments (see Dweck, 1999). Implicit theories in the sense used by Dweck distinguish between the belief that human attributes are fixed (entity theory) or malleable (incremental theory). The present study examined to what extent implicit theories are related to personality and intelligence. A sample of 592 adults completed self-report measures of implicit theories and the Big Five factors of personality as well as two short forms of intelligence tests. The results support the notion that implicit theories about the malleability of personality and intelligence are largely unrelated to actual personality and intelligence. Thus, the results represent further evidence for the high discriminant validity of the implicit theories construct.
Article
Accession Number: 2003-07850-017. First Author & Affiliation: Spinath, Birgit; Dept of Psychology, U Dortmund, Dortmund, Germany. Release Date: 20030929. Publication Type: Journal, (0100); Peer Reviewed Journal, (0110); . Media Covered: Print. Document Type: Journal Article. Language: English. Major Descriptor: Intelligence; Personality Theory; Personality Traits. Minor Descriptor: Achievement Motivation. Classification: Personality Psychology (3100) . Population: Human (10); Male (30); Female (40); . Location: Germany. Age Group: Adulthood (18 yrs & older) (300) Young Adulthood (18-29 yrs) (320) Thirties (30-39 yrs) (340) Middle Age (40-64 yrs) (360) Aged (65 yrs & older) (380) . Tests & Measures: NEO Personality Inventory-Revised; Raven Progressive Matrices; . Methodology: Empirical Study. References Available: Y.. Page Count: 13.. Issue Publication Date: Sep, 2003
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Using recent research, I argue that beliefs lie at the heart of personality and adaptive functioning and that they give us unique insight into how personality and functioning can be changed. I focus on two classes of beliefs - beliefs about the malleability of self-attributes and expectations of social acceptance versus rejection - and show how modest interventions have brought about important real-world changes. I conclude by suggesting that beliefs are central to the way in which people package their experiences and carry them forward, and that beliefs should play a more central role in the study of personality.
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We define self-enhancement and self-protection as interests that individuals have in advancing one or more self-domains or defending against negative self-views. We review ways in which people pursue self-enhancement and self-protection, discuss the role of these motivational constructs in scientific explanations, argue for their importance in maintaining psychological and physical well-being, and consider the conditions in which they are likely to operate. At various points, we address the perennial “cognition-motivation” debate. We argue that, despite the conceptual and practical difficulties that attend this distinction, the pervasiveness of the self-enhancement and self-protection motives makes it impossible and imprudent to ignore them in explaining self-related findings and theories.
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Can treating oneself with compassion after making a mistake increase self-improvement motivation? In four experiments, the authors examined the hypothesis that self-compassion motivates people to improve personal weaknesses, moral transgressions, and test performance. Participants in a self-compassion condition, compared to a self-esteem control condition and either no intervention or a positive distraction control condition, expressed greater incremental beliefs about a personal weakness (Experiment 1); reported greater motivation to make amends and avoid repeating a recent moral transgression (Experiment 2); spent more time studying for a difficult test following an initial failure (Experiment 3); exhibited a preference for upward social comparison after reflecting on a personal weakness (Experiment 4); and reported greater motivation to change the weakness (Experiment 4). These findings suggest that, somewhat paradoxically, taking an accepting approach to personal failure may make people more motivated to improve themselves.
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Discrepancies between actual-self and ideal-self representations have been theoretically associated with low self-esteem. Research to date, however, has failed to establish that actual-ideal discrepancy scores account for a unique proportion of the variance in self-esteem independent of actual-self ratings. Critics such as Wylie (1974) have suggested that this may reflect individual differences in ideal-self standards, and that these differences must be taken into account when devising discrepancy measures. In the current study, subjects completed a nomothetically based measure that assessed actual-ideal discrepancy on a standard set of personality characteristics and an idiographically based measure that assessed actual-ideal discrepancy between subjects' self-nominated actualself and ideal-self attributes. Results indicate that, consistent with previous research, the relation between actual-ideal discrepancy on the nomothetic measure and self-esteem is not significant when the variance due to actual-self ratings is statistically held constant. In contrast, the relation between actual-ideal discrepancy on the idiographic measure and self-esteem is significant even when variance due to the positivity of actual-self attributes is statistically held constant. Furthermore, only positive actual-self attributes that match the ideal-self are related to high self-esteem and only negative actual-self attributes that do not match the ideal-self are related to low self-esteem. These findings underscore the importance of an idiographic approach to evaluating actual-ideal discrepancy.
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When time is limited, researchers may be faced with the choice of using an extremely brief measure of the Big-Five personality dimensions or using no measure at all. To meet the need for a very brief measure, 5 and 10-item inventories were developed and evaluated. Although somewhat inferior to standard multi-item instruments, the instruments reached adequate levels in terms of: (a) convergence with widely used Big-Five measures in self, observer, and peer reports, (b) test–retest reliability, (c) patterns of predicted external correlates, and (d) convergence between self and observer ratings. On the basis of these tests, a 10-item measure of the Big-Five dimensions is offered for situations where very short measures are needed, personality is not the primary topic of interest, or researchers can tolerate the somewhat diminished psychometric properties associated with very brief measures.
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The current research extended the implicit theory approach to a weight management context and merged it with value expectancy theory. Three studies investigated the hypothesis that individuals are especially unlikely to self-regulate effectively after dieting setbacks when they believe body weight to be fixed (entity theory) rather than malleable (incremental theory). Study 1 examined avoidant coping after a hypothetical dieting setback. Study 2 examined the implicit theory-avoidant coping relation after naturally occurring challenges to participants' weight-loss goals. Across both studies, entity theorists, relative to incremental theorists, reported more avoidant coping after setbacks. In Study 2, avoidant coping, in turn, predicted difficulty achieving weight-loss success. Study 3 manipulated implicit theories of weight to test the causal effects of implicit theories on effortful regulation. Entity theorists, relative to incremental theorists, reported less persistence following setbacks. Across the three studies, expectations about the potential for future dieting success mediated the link between implicit theory and self-regulation.
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We hypothesized that people motivated to believe that they possess a given trait search for autobiographical memories that reflect that trait, so as to justify their desired self-view. We led subjects to believe that either extraversion or introversion was desirable, and obtained convergent evidence from open-ended memory-listing tasks as well as from reaction-time tasks measuring the speed with which memories could be generated that this manipulation enhanced the accessibility of memories reflecting the desired trait. If people rely on their memories to construct desired self-concepts, motivated changes in self-concepts should be constrained by the content of available memories. Our final study demonstrates such constraints.
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It is proposed that motivation may affect reasoning through reliance on a biased set of cognitive processes--that is, strategies for accessing, constructing, and evaluating beliefs. The motivation to be accurate enhances use of those beliefs and strategies that are considered most appropriate, whereas the motivation to arrive at particular conclusions enhances use of those that are considered most likely to yield the desired conclusion. There is considerable evidence that people are more likely to arrive at conclusions that they want to arrive at, but their ability to do so is constrained by their ability to construct seemingly reasonable justifications for these conclusions. These ideas can account for a wide variety of research concerned with motivated reasoning.
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Two studies using different paradigms activated either ideal self-guides (a person's hopes or wishes) or ought self-guides (a person's sense of duty and responsibility) and measured Ss' concern with different forms of self-regulation: approaching matches to desired end states or mismatches to undesired end states and avoiding mismatches to desired end states or matches to undesired end states. A 3rd study asked ideal versus ought discrepant Ss to select among alternative strategies for friendship. The results suggest that a concern with approach is greater for ideal than ought self-regulation, whereas a concern with avoidance is greater for ought than ideal self-regulation.
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Praise for ability is commonly considered to have beneficial effects on motivation. Contrary to this popular belief, six studies demonstrated that praise for intelligence had more negative consequences for students' achievement motivation than praise for effort. Fifth graders praised for intelligence were found to care more about performance goals relative to learning goals than children praised for effort. After failure, they also displayed less task persistence, less task enjoyment, more low-ability attributions, and worse task performance than children praised for effort. Finally, children praised for intelligence described it as a fixed trait more than children praised for hard work, who believed it to be subject to improvement. These findings have important implications for how achievement is best encouraged, as well as for more theoretical issues, such as the potential cost of performance goals and the socialization of contingent self-worth.
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Conventional wisdom suggests that praising a child as a whole or praising his or her traits is beneficial. Two studies tested the hypothesis that both criticism and praise that conveyed person or trait judgments could send a message of contingent worth and undermine subsequent coping. In Study 1, 67 children (ages 5-6 years) role-played tasks involving a setback and received 1 of 3 forms of criticism after each task: person, outcome, or process criticism. In Study 2, 64 children role-played successful tasks and received either person, outcome, or process praise. In both studies, self-assessments, affect, and persistence were measured on a subsequent task involving a setback. Results indicated that children displayed significantly more "helpless" responses (including self-blame) on all dependent measures after person criticism or praise than after process criticism or praise. Thus person feedback, even when positive, can create vulnerability and a sense of contingent self-worth.