Implicit theories of personality and adolescent aggression: A process model and an intervention strategy

David Scott Yeager
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Stanford Digital Repository

Why do some adolescents respond to peer conflict, exclusion or victimization vengefully, while others seek more positive solutions? Five studies in the dissertation investigated the role of implicit theories of personality in predicting 9th and 10th grade adolescents' violent or vengeful responses to peer conflicts, and extended this theoretical framework to understand stress and academic engagement at the transition to high school. A greater belief that traits are fixed (an entity theory) predicted a stronger desire for revenge after a variety of recalled peer conflicts (Study 1) and after a hypothetical conflict that specifically involved bullying (Study 2). Study 3 experimentally induced a belief in the potential for change (an incremental theory), which resulted in a reduced desire to seek revenge. This effect was mediated by changes in "bad person" attributions about the perpetrator