Online Mindset Training Protects Adolescents from Unhealthy Responses to Stress

Date

2022

Authors

Yeager, David S.
Bryan, Christopher J.
Gross, James J.
Murray, Jared S.
Krettek Cobb, Danielle
Santos, Pedro H.F.
Gravelding, Hannah
Johnson, Meghann
Jamieson, Jeremy P.

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Publisher

University of Texas at Austin Population Research Center

Abstract

Description

Adolescents today are experiencing record-high levels of stress-related anxiety and symptoms of depression. Conventional thinking portrays stress as mostly a bad thing to be avoided. But this “stress avoidance” mentality can disadvantage teenagers, as it may lead many to disengage from potentially beneficial stressors such as demanding academic coursework. PRC faculty scholars David Yeager, Christopher Bryan, and colleagues, combined and tested two existing, scientifically validated mindsets – the growth mindset and stress-can-be-enhancing mindset – into a single, coherent treatment to teach adolescents how to appraise and optimize stress. They found that teaching adolescents about the two mindsets together had synergistic effects and that together, the synergistic mindsets training helped adolescents to engage with challenges rather than avoid them, and to harness the body’s natural resources to help them succeed when the demands of challenging pursuits felt the most intense. This research demonstrates a potentially powerful, low-cost and easy-to-use tool for addressing adolescents’ stress.

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