Intelligence mindset, which denotes individual beliefs about whether intelligence is fixed versus malleable, shapes academic success, but the neural mechanisms underlying mindset-related differences in learning are unknown. Here, we probe the effects of individual differences in mindset on neural responses to negative feedback after a competence threat manipulation. We hypothesized that when their competence was threatened, participants with fixed mindsets would interpret further negative feedback as punishing. After receiving either no score or a competence-threatening IQ score, participants performed a learning task with feedback that emphasized either the evaluative or informational weight of negative feedback. Participants who experienced the competence threat had the strongest predictive relationships between mindset, performance, and caudate activation. The competence threat may have compounded the subjective punishment of negative feedback for fixed mindsets relative to growth mindsets, causing poorer learning from negative feedback in the evaluative context and inflexible striatal responses to negative feedback across feedback contexts.
Bejjani, C., DePasque, S., & Tricomi, E. (2019). Intelligence mindset shapes neural learning signals and memory. Biological Psychology, 146. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2019.06.003