Yeager Lab Alum Cintia Hinojosa publishes research summary for teachers in Scholastic’s Choices Ideabook

Read the full article here.

Dr. Yeager’s research on learning mindsets discussed in Harvard Business Review

Read the full article here.

Should “grit” be taught and tested in school?

Read the Scientific American article here.

An intro to the New Paths to Purpose project

There may be no greater resource for human achievement than the sense of purpose. Purpose is a stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is meaningful to the self, and often is of consequence to the world beyond the self*.  Purpose provides a guiding light as we forge a path through the frenzy and chaos of modern life.  To move forward, leaders must offer a vision of the future that inspires.  Innovators must take necessary risks on ideas, methods, and collaborators.  People need to believe in human potential and act on our capacities for noble and responsible self-determination.  Yet lives of purpose are undermined daily by obstacles that we fail to anticipate, and thus to overcome.

To address this problem, the Center for Decision Research (CDR) at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business has launched “Enhancing the Human Experience through Behavioral Science: New Paths to Purpose,” a 3-year, $3.6 million project aimed at transforming how we think about and experience purpose.  At the heart of this effort is a determination to engage an ever-expanding community of minds addressing this central question: How might individuals actively shape—rather than merely inhabit—their environments, and thus become more purposeful, powerful creators of their destiny?

Over the course of the project, our core team of internationally renowned scientists will devote themselves to this aim through four focal initiatives:

  • Behavioral science research at the CDR that will help to reshape understandings of the human experience of purpose
  • An ambitious expansion of the behavioral study of purpose by supporting related research at other institutions
  • Translation of project insights into educational offerings that can inspire present and future citizens of the world
  • Outreach activities to help communicate with and involve external audiences

Leading this project are Richard Thaler, Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics, and Eugene Caruso, Associate Professor of Behavioral Science.  Backed by their vision, initiative, and outreach, the project has established its foundation in four ambitious research agendas, described here.

* Our definition of purpose comes from:
Damon, W., Menon, J., & Bronk, K. (2003). The development of purpose during adolescence.  Applied Developmental Science, 7, 119-128.

See a video introduction to the New Paths to Purpose project here.

New paper on “non-cognitive” measurement in education

See a research brief created by the Mindset Scholars Network at CASBS here:

Mindset Scholars Network Non-Cognitive Measurement Frontiers Brief May 2015

See the AERA press release here:

AERA Press Release


Good summary of our purpose research

See Jonah Lehrer blog here.

Note about coverage of mindset research in the Atlantic

This note is in reference to this recent article in the Atlantic:


We thank The Atlantic for its recent article by Thomas Toch and Susan Headden covering our research on psychological strategies that can help students thrive in school. This article continues The Atlantic’s long tradition of excellence in reporting on psychology and education, including Claude Steele’s seminal essays on “stereotype threat” (here and here), on which our work builds.


Here we would simply like to highlight three issues to help provide a context for our research. First, some people may think that research on mindsets tries to “fix” students with inherent deficiencies or insecurities. It does not. Many students have legitimate worries about whether they can safely invest themselves in schoolwork. These worries are the result of societal messages that struggle means you are not “smart” and of erroneous but pervasive stereotypes about the capabilities of low-income students and students of color. Mindset interventions are designed to buffer students from these harmful messages. They help enhance students’ feelings of belonging so that they can invest in school and achieve more.


Second, mindset interventions are not a replacement for addressing root problems in schools or society, such as poor teaching or the widespread and brutal effects of poverty and bias. Children will always need safety, security, and adequate resources at home and in school. These, combined with thoughtful and well-tested psychological interventions, will help our students the most.


Third, we agree with the authors that mindset interventions need more testing. We and many other investigators are diligently addressing this need. We need to know for whom and under what circumstances mindset interventions are most effective and how to make them more effective for more students. We are also deeply interested in how mindset interventions can work hand in hand with other approaches to reducing educational inequality.


Once again, we thank The Atlantic for its thoughtful treatment of our work.


David Yeager, Greg Walton, and Carol Dweck

Some media coverage in the NYT


Also see:

Announcing new college transition consortium

Greg Walton, Mary Murphy and I, along with Omid Fotuhi, Dave Paunesku, Lauren Aguilar, and Shannon Brady, have begun to create a novel organization to customize, test, and eventually disseminate psychological intervention strategies that have increasingly been found to have beneficial effects for disadvantaged students. Read more about it at the PERTS website.

New paper in press at JPSP

Yeager, D.S., Johnson, R.*, Spitzer, B.*, Trzesniewski, K., Powers, J.*, & Dweck, C.S. (in press). The far-reaching effects of believing people can change: Implicit theories of personality shape stress, health, and achievement during adolescence.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Online supplement.