On translating beliefs into action: Theories of ability and their application in an instructional setting

William B. Swann, Mark Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations

Abstract

90 male undergraduates acted as an instructor or as 1 of 2 pupils in experimental sessions during which the instructors taught a card trick. Beforehand, instructors learned either that ability is produced through such extrinsic factors as thorough instruction (extrinsic theory), or that ability emerges from the natural development of pupils' intrinsic capabilities (intrinsic theory). Instructors were also told that one pupil possessed high ability (high ability label) and the other possessed low ability (low ability label). Pupils whose instructors operated with the extrinsic theory behaviorally confirmed their instructors' initial beliefs: Pupils labeled as having high ability outperformed those labeled as having low ability. Yet pupils whose instructors operated with the intrinsic theory behaviorally disconfirmed their initial beliefs: Pupils labeled as having low ability outperformed those labeled as having high ability. Regardless of pupils' actual performance, instructors always asserted that pupils labeled as having high ability outperformed those labeled as having low ability. Pupils labeled as having high ability asserted that instructors had more confidence in their ability than pupils labeled as having low ability. (30 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-888
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume38
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 1980

Keywords

  • extrinsic vs intrinsic theory of ability & high vs low ability labeled pupil, teaching strategy & pupil performance & instructor perception of performance, male college students

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