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Same mindset, different goals and motivational frameworks: Profiles of mindset-based meaning systems

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Growth and fixed mindsets have been linked to distinct effort beliefs, goals, and behaviours, creating a seemingly dichotomous pattern of motivation. Yet, students holding the same mindset are unlikely a homogenous group and may further differ in their motivational patterns. The current study employed a person-centred approach to investigate how mindsets and associated constructs naturally cohered and functioned together to influence student achievement. Data were collected from 535 English students (aged 14-16 years) on mindsets, effort beliefs, achievement goals, perseverance, and self-handicapping, along with their English and maths performance at the end of secondary school. Latent profile analyses revealed four distinct profiles. Across the profiles, students’ mindset co-varied with effort beliefs, mastery goals, perseverance, and self-handicapping, but the relationship between mindsets and performance goals was less straightforward. Two profiles supported the classic growth mindset–mastery goal (Growth-Focused) and fixed mindset–performance goal pairings (Ability-Focused). The other two profiles, however, displayed alternative combinations of mindsets and goals that had not been acknowledged in the past. Specifically, some growth mindset students embraced performance goals alongside mastery goals (Growth-Competitive), and some fixed mindset students did not endorse performance goals (Disengaged). The two growth-oriented profiles consistently performed well, and Growth-Competitive students even outperformed Growth-Focused students in maths. Compared to girls, boys were more often found in Ability-Focused and Disengaged profiles. Overall, the results indicate a nuanced set of relations between mindsets and achievement goals, highlighting the dynamic integration of motivational beliefs and goals within individuals.



Implicit theories of intelligence, Mindset, Achievement goals, Latent profile analysis, Person-oriented approach, Academic achievement, Gender differences

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Contemporary Educational Psychology

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Elsevier BV
Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust; China Scholarship Council