What is it about?

Our commentary argues meta-analyses should not seek to answer questions such as “is there an effect or not?” but rather to reveal where effects are weaker or stronger and to advance mechanistic theories. It illustrates how two recent meta-analyses of growth mindset interventions diverged in applying best practices and reached different conclusions. A reanalysis shows that, in fact, both meta-analyses found meaningful effects of growth mindset for predicted subgroups groups.

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Why is it important?

Our commentary provides guidance to both those conducting meta-analyses and those reading meta-analyses to understand the state of knowledge in a field of research. It summarizes best practices – that can be applied to any meta-analysis – and illustrates how to implement them, including common mistakes.


The group of us that wrote this commentary – including psychologists, sociologists, and statisticians – have worked together previously on other projects focused on bringing state-of-the-art methods to psychological studies. Some of us had worked together on the design of the National Study of Learning Mindsets – a random assignment study conducted in a random sample of US high schools – and knew, already, from this that the effects of growth mindset varied. The commentary came out of our surprise and frustration with the framing of one of the meta-analyses which overly simplified what we knew to be a more complex story. The result is a paper that we hope transcends the topic of growth mindset, providing the broader field with resources to think of heterogeneity as important to theory development and understanding, not as simply a nuisance.

Elizabeth Tipton
Northwestern University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Why meta-analyses of growth mindset and other interventions should follow best practices for examining heterogeneity: Commentary on Macnamara and Burgoyne (2023) and Burnette et al. (2023)., Psychological Bulletin, March 2023, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/bul0000384.
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