It has generally been taken for granted that conceiving of ability as stable leads to negative self-evaluative processes, particularly in the face of failure. Yet, a close examination of the empirical findings suggests that the picture may be more complex. In this research, a three-wave longitudinal design spanning 12 months was employed. Older elementary school children (N = 932) indicated their conceptions of academic and social ability as stable to external forces and to internal forces. They also provided information about the importance they place on academic and social competence, their knowledge about academic and social performance, their preference for academic challenge, their perceptions of academic and social competence, and their attributions for academic and social performance. Children's grades in school and their acceptance by peers were obtained as indicators of performance. Over time, conceiving of ability as stable to external forces, particularly in the academic domain, appeared to heighten the importance placed on competence, performance knowledge, preference for challenge, perceptions of competence, and self-enhancing attributions. In contrast, conceptions of ability as stable to internal forces, particularly in the academic domain, appeared to be fostered by placing little importance on competence, a lack of performance knowledge, avoidance of challenge, negative perceptions of competence, self-deprecating attributions, and poor performance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology