Aronson et al., 2002: Learning, and then writing letters about developing your intelligence to middle schoolers, increased grades among college students over the following academic term
College students were asked to serve as pen pal mentors to a struggling middle school student, wrote the student an encouraging letter, received a thank you note from the student and his or her teacher, wrote a second letter, and then rewrote their letters into a brief speech that was audiotaped for future at-risk children. In the growth-mindset condition, students were encouraged to help the middle school student see intelligence as a capacity that can grow “like a muscle” with mental work, watched a brief video that discussed how intelligence can grow throughout life, and were encouraged to incorporate examples in their letters from their own life to illustrate how intelligence can grow. Control students either wrote similar letters but about how intelligence is not one thing but many or wrote no letters. As compared to both control conditions, students in the growth-mindset condition earned higher grades the next academic term and African American students reported enjoying school more and being more invested in doing well.