Caregivers’ Failure Mindset, Helicopter Parenting, and Emerging Adults’ Intelligence Mindset


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Oral Presentation

Publication Date


Department or Program

Psychological Science


College of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor #1

Schiffrin, Holly


People may view intelligence as an innately fixed trait that cannot be changed or as something that can grow over time with effort. Growth mindsets are related to more favorable outcomes than fixed mindsets because children with growth mindsets are more likely to persevere during difficult times and see failure as an opportunity to learn (Dweck et al., 1995). When parents convey that “failure-is-debilitating” to their children, it increases the likelihood that they will develop a fixed mindset (Haimovitz & Dweck, 2016). One-way parents might make their failure mindset observable to their children is through helicopter parenting (i.e., parents with failure-is-debilitating mindsets might intervene to prevent their children from failing). Helicopter parenting refers to developmentally inappropriate levels of involvement and control in children’s lives (Segrin et al., 2012), which have damaging effects on the well-being (Schiffrin et al., 2014) and academic outcomes (Schiffrin & Liss, 2017) of emerging adults. A mediation analysis was conducted using bias-corrected 95% confidence intervals based on 10,000 bootstrap samples (Hayes, 2013). For maternal caregivers, failure mindset was significantly associated with maternal helicopter parenting, and maternal helicopter parenting was associated with emerging adults having a fixed mindset. There was an indirect effect of maternal failure mindset on emerging adults’ intelligence mindset through maternal helicopter parenting. For paternal caregivers, failure mindset was significantly associated with paternal helicopter parenting behaviors. However, the path from paternal helicopter parenting to emerging adults’ intelligence mindset and the indirect path were both nonsignificant. The paths from maternal failure mindset through paternal helicopter parenting and vice versa were not significant. Thus, when mothers view failure-as-debilitating, they engage in more helicopter parenting, and their children are more likely to develop fixed mindsets. These findings have implications for emerging adults’ career and academic success.

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