Growth mindset and academic achievement in Chinese adolescents: A moderated mediation model of reasoning ability and self-affirmation


Although growth mindset (i.e., the belief that intelligence can be developed) has been shown to play an important role in academic achievement, little is known about the underlying mediating and/or moderating mechanisms in adolescents. The current study investigated (a) the mediating role of reasoning ability in the relationship between growth mindset and academic achievement, and (b) the moderating role of self-affirmation in the direct and indirect relationships between growth mindset and academic achievement. Participants were 1828 Chinese adolescents (age, M = 16.88; 59.4% male). Participants filled out questionnaires regarding growth mindset, academic achievement, reasoning ability, and self-affirmation. After controlling for age, sex, annual family income, hukou (household registered), and parent’s educational level, we found that growth mindset was significantly positively associated with academic achievement. Mediation analysis revealed that reasoning ability partially mediated this relationship. Growth mindset (incremental theories of intelligence) significantly predicted academic achievement in adolescents with high self-affirmation, but not in those with low self-affirmation. Moderated mediation analysis further indicated that the direct and indirect relationships between growth mindset and academic achievement were moderated by self-affirmation. The indirect effect of growth mindset on academic achievement via reasoning ability was stronger for adolescents with high self-affirmation than in those with low self-affirmation.

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This study was funded by the National Social Science Fund of China (grant number 19BSH123).

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Correspondence to Fangqi Yuan or Yanpei Wang.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Written consent was obtained from each participant after a full explanation of the study procedure.

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Wang, D., Yuan, F. & Wang, Y. Growth mindset and academic achievement in Chinese adolescents: A moderated mediation model of reasoning ability and self-affirmation. Curr Psychol (2020).

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  • Growth mindset
  • Self-affirmation
  • Academic achievement
  • Reasoning ability
  • Adolescents