Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP, Chair, Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Diane Smallwood, PsyD, NCSP, Chairperson

Second Advisor

Virginia Burks Salzer, PhD

Third Advisor

Jaures Johnston, PhD


Expanding the current mindset research focus from the adolescent population to kindergarten-age children and examining the variables that impact mindsets in young children were the prominent goals of this study. The first research question sought to uncover information regarding the relationship between parents’ mindsets (growth or fixed) and observable behavioral markers associated with the mindsets that present in young children. Four behaviors were of primary interest: level of engagement, type of self -verbalizations, anxiety-related behavior and guessing behavior. Also examined was the relationship between parents’ mindsets and children’s mindsets. The second research question explored the association between these aforementioned behavioral markers and children’s mindsets. The third research question examined the effectiveness of a growth mindset kindergarten classroom intervention. Although no significant associations existed between children’s mindsets and any of the behavioral markers, significant effects were revealed when examining the association between parents’ mindsets and children’s level of engagement and between parents’ mindsets and children’s anxiety-related behavior. Although no significance was found between parents’ mindsets and children’s mindsets, findings showed that parents with a fixed mindset invariably had a child with a fixed mindset (85.7%), whereas parents with a growth mindset were equally likely to have a child with a fixed mindset (58.3%) or a growth mindset (41.7%). The implications of the associations found between child and parent variables (mindset and behaviors) are further explored in this study. This study has shown that it is possible to extend adolescent growth mindset intervention programming, because kindergarten students were able to learn a growth mindset through a multisession classroom intervention. Students evidenced knowledge gain about the brain as well as a transformation from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Findings from this present research elucidate the pivotal role that parents play in their young children’s lives and make suggestions for future early intervention programming. Because intervention effectiveness has been established, the framework from this piloted growth mindset classroom intervention can be utilized for future intervention design targeted for kindergarten youth.