Effects of Fixed and Malleable Views of Intelligence And Attribution of Controllability on Teacher Affects

Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Virginia Salzer, PhD

Second Advisor

George McCloskey, PhD

Third Advisor

Meredith Panik, PhD


Teachers’ emotional responses to students who fail often are interpreted by the students as indicative of the teachers’ attributions for the cause behind the student failure. Students’ interpretations of these emotional responses can affect their self-esteem and expectations for future success. The present study explored teacher and student variables related to emotive classroom expression toward test failures of boys. View of intelligence as fixed or malleable, attribution of controllability (effort & ability) and student condition were measured and examined in relation to frustration, sympathy, positive or negative feedback and expectations for future failure. Attribution of controllability (effort & ability) were manipulated through the use of failure vignettes. The vignettes varied systematically on degree of effort and ability displayed by disabled and non-disabled students. Two hundred ten K-12 school teachers completed questionnaires measuring type of IQ beliefs and demographic variables. The data were analyzed by t-tests and analysis of variance for independent groups. The results of the study were discussed within the context of educational and cognitive psychological theories and implications for research and practice are provided. The findings show that fixed and malleable theorists differ in their emotional responses of frustration and expectation for future failure in the ability, effort, and student status conditions. There was no differential response between groups on expressions of sympathy or praise in any conditions.

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