An Economists’ Guide to Mindset: Evidence From A Field Experiment in Norway
Last registered on May 31, 2017


Trial Information
General Information
An Economists’ Guide to Mindset: Evidence From A Field Experiment in Norway
Initial registration date
March 20, 2017
Last updated
May 31, 2017 6:46 PM EDT

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Primary Investigator
Stanford University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
U of Texas-Austin
PI Affiliation
Stanford U
PI Affiliation
Florida State U
PI Affiliation
University of Stavanger
Additional Trial Information
On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Research Council Norway: 260407 and 227004
A belief in the malleability of intelligence is what psychologists refer to as a growth mindset. Experimental work in social psychology has demonstrated that students who develop a growth mindset perform significantly better than students who do not. We attempt to replicate this work in Norway and to "translate" growth mindsets into the realm of behavioral economics. We hypothesize that growth mindset could be related to such behavioral concepts as patience, perceptions of the cost of effort, confidence and overconfidence, and risk taking. We test these in two steps. First, using a growth mindset intervention previously designed by social psychologists, we experimentally test whether the intervention leads to increased likelihoods of students exhibiting growth mindsets. Most particularly, we examine changes in mindset among students who previously did not display a growth mindset. These tend to be students with low GPA prior to the intervention and students who attend vocational track. We measure mindset immediately after and again after a couple of weeks. Second, we measure the economic behaviors described above for treatment and control. The comparisons of treatment and control in this second stage provide some insight into the mechanisms by which growth mindset might change student behavior.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Bettinger, Eric et al. 2017. "An Economists’ Guide to Mindset: Evidence From A Field Experiment in Norway." AEA RCT Registry. May 31.
Experimental Details
Our baseline measure of mindset and intervention come from prior work by Yeager et al 2016 (Journal of Educational Psychology). We translated the intervention into Norwegian and adapted for the context we study. The treatment condition exposes students to growth mindset through online reading and writing exercises. These exercises focus on (1) how intellectual abilities are malleable and accordingly how the brain can grow and change, (2) how to cope with confusion and difficulty, (3) how hardwork on challenging exercises improves the neural connections in one’s brain, and (4) how personal goals can give purpose and relevance to motivate effort in difficult tasks (Yeager et al. 2014). The control condition has analogous activities, which teach students facts about memory and brain functioning, but does not address the malleability of intellectual ability. Students participate in two mindset interventions administered roughly two weeks apart.

A month after the initial mindset treatment, we administer a battery of behavioral metrics which rely on methods from experimental economics. These metrics include confidence and overconfidence, risk preferences, time preferences, and perceptions of the costs of effort.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
We will evaluate the efficacy of mindset in the same way the Yeager et al 2016 measured mindset. We will then correlate any treatment effects to observed differences in the behavioral metrics.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
To measure mindset we use the same two survey questions as in Yeager et al 2016 and apply a standardized average.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The experiment happens with secondary school students in three separate sessions which occur during an hour of the academic day. In the first two sessions, each student has a laptop and headphones. The control and treatment screens, which are generated in a qualitrics survey, appear identical in terms of graphics. The verbal and written prompts differ by treatment status. Following the administration of the survey, students answer a set of questions in qualtrics. One treatment session focuses on malleability of intelligence while the second session provides examples of individuals who displayed growth mindsets.

In the third session, students also use their laptops to access a qualtrics survey. The survey takes students through the battery of behavioral metrics described above. Because we are trying to measure these concepts in an educational context, we gather both traditional and contextualized metrics. For example, in measuring risk preferences, we examine preferences over a lottery. We also give students an "academic lottery" where they can choose to answer easy (low-risk) questions or harder (high-risk) questions. To contextualize this academic lottery, we adjust the difficulty level of questions to match students' abilities so that all students face the same odds.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization to mindset treatment happens individually.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
We anticipate administering data in three schools.
Sample size: planned number of observations
The sample size should be roughly 600 students.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
We will have 300 students in the treatment and the control.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
0.23 standard deviations
IRB Name
NSD Data Protection Official for Research
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
47205. Usay: Shaping students' learnings