Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 101–120 | Cite as

The Pivotal Role of Effort Beliefs in Mediating Implicit Theories of Intelligence and Achievement Goals and Academic Motivations

  • Dirk T. Tempelaar
  • Bart Rienties
  • Bas Giesbers
  • Wim H. Gijselaers


Empirical studies into meaning systems surrounding implicit theories of intelligence typically entail two stringent assumptions: that different implicit theories and different effort beliefs represent opposite poles on a single scale, and that implicit theories directly impact the constructs as achievement goals and academic motivations. Through an empirical study based on a large sample of university students, we aim to demonstrate that relaxing these stringent assumptions, and thereby using the meaning system framework to its full potential, will provide strong benefits: effort beliefs are crucial mediators of relationships between implicit theories and achievement goals and academic motivations, and the different poles of implicit theories and effort beliefs do expose different relationships with goal setting behaviour and academic motivations. A structural equation model, cross-validated by demonstrating gender-invariance of path coefficients, demonstrates that incremental and entity theory views have less predictive power than positive and negative effort beliefs in explaining achievement goals and motivations.


Self-theories Implicit theories Effort beliefs Achievement goals Academic motivations Structural equation model 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk T. Tempelaar
    • 1
  • Bart Rienties
    • 3
  • Bas Giesbers
    • 4
  • Wim H. Gijselaers
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Quantitative Economics, School of Business and EconomicsMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Educational Research and Development, School of Business and EconomicsMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institute of Educational TechnologyOpen University UKMilton KeynesUK
  4. 4.Rotterdam School of ManagementErasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands

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