Existing literature on failure mindsets and implicit theories of intelligence (ITI) is primarily cross-sectional, prompting this study to provide a longitudinal perspective. Implicit theories of intelligence refer to individuals' underlying beliefs regarding whether intelligence is fixed or malleable. In contrast, a failure mindset denotes an individual's disposition towards failure, categorizing it as either debilitating or as an opportunity for growth. Beyond individual-level factors, the study investigates the causal effects of perceived parental failure mindsets on students' beliefs of their intelligence, addressing critical gaps in the current understanding of these constructs. 


In this study, 332 Chinese undergraduate students were part of the investigation. Researchers measured their attitudes toward failure, their goals for achievement, and their perceptions of their parents' attitudes toward failure at the beginning of the study and again one year later. The findings uncovered meaningful connections between how students saw their parents' mindset about failure and their own mindset and beliefs about whether intelligence can change. This means that there was a back-and-forth relationship – as students perceived their parents' mindset about failure, it was related to how they saw failure themselves and their beliefs about intelligence. The study calls for further exploration of mediating and moderating factors in the influence of parental failure mindsets on students' beliefs. Recognizing the complexity of these relationships, future research at EPIC could delve into attribution theory, offering insights into how different conceptions of intelligence and attribution of failure influence students' interpretations of their academic performance. This study suggests potential avenues for EPIC to deepen its understanding of the nuanced dynamics shaping beliefs about failure and intelligence.


Tao et al.’s (2022) study emphasizes the need for a supportive environment to foster failure-as-enhancing beliefs and intelligence-as-malleable beliefs. For educators and parents, the study underscores the importance of fostering a positive view of failure and intelligence. Teachers play a pivotal role in shaping students' beliefs through constructive feedback and encouragement. Recognizing their impact on their children's mindset, parents can actively promote resilience. 


If you are interested in reading further about this study, the link is below:
Do not despise failures: Students’ failure mindset, perception of parents’ failure mindset, and implicit theory of intelligence.


This post is written by Tristin Yun. 



Tao, V. Y., Li, Y., & Wu, A. M. (2022). Do not despise failures: Students’ failure mindset, perception of parents’ failure mindset, and implicit theory of intelligence. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 1-15.