Modification of ability beliefs and help-seeking behavior in response to verifying and non-self-verifying performance feedback
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This study used a non-veridical test feedback paradigm to explore if people could be induced to modify their implicit theories of intelligence in the service of self-verification or self-enhancement. In addition, it examined if the hypothesized treatment effect (changes in implicit theory of intelligence) would result in concomitant changes in helpseeking behavior. Finally, it investigated if implicit theory of intelligence or global selfesteem would moderate affective reactions to test feedback. To explore these questions, 92 Caucasian, undergraduate females were recruited from the University of Texas at Austin. Participants were selected based on their ranking in either the upper or lower onethird on the Self-Attributes Questionnaire (SAQ) measure of perceived intellectual ability. Participants were dichotomized into those with relatively high intelligence selfviews and those with relatively low intelligence self-views. They were randomly assigned to treatment condition, and after taking an exam that ostensibly measured an aspect of intellectual ability, received favorable or unfavorable test feedback. Primary dependent variables included scores on the Implicit Theory of Intelligence Scale, the Revised Causal vi Dimension Scale (CDS-II), and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). Results did not indicate a main effect of test feedback—or interaction effect of test feedback and intelligence self-view—on implicit theory of intelligence. As expected, there was a significant main effect of test feedback on causal attributions for performance. There was no main effect of intelligence self-view—or interaction effect of test feedback and intelligence self-view—on help-seeking behavior. As hypothesized, there was a simple effect suggesting that those with high intelligence self-views who also received favorable feedback were most sensitive to the self-threat inherent in seeking help. Contrary to what was hypothesized, neither global self-esteem nor implicit theory of intelligence moderated the relationship between test feedback and affective reactions to performance. Although the primary hypotheses were not supported, the results help illuminate the distinction between implicit theories and performance attributions, and raise some questions about the psychometric properties of existing measures of implicit theories of intelligence.