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Yeager, Henderson, et al., 2014, Study 2: Promoting a prosocial learning purpose increased self-regulation and grades in math and science classes among low-performing students over one academic term


Yeager, D. S., Henderson, M. D., Paunesku, D., Walton, G. M., D'Mello, S., Spitzer, B. J., & Duckworth, A. L. (2014). Boring but important: A self-transcendent purpose for learning fosters academic self-regulation. Journal of personality and social psychology, 107(4), 559.
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High school students (1) identified a social problem important to them, (2) reviewed stories from other adolescents describing how an awareness of social problems and a desire to contribute positively to the world motivated them to work harder in school, and (3) wrote their own story for future high school students about their purposes for learning. As compared to an active placebo control condition, this raised GPA in math and science classes the next academic term with the greatest effect for initially low-performing students. Extension studies showed that the sense-of-purpose intervention also promoted sustained self-regulation on boring but important foundational learning tasks.

Psychological Process:

Psychological Process 2:


What is the Person Trying to Understand?

What Desired Meaning is At Stake?

What Desired Meaning is At Stake?

What About it?

Approach to Desired Meaning

Approach to Desired Meaning


Psychological Question Addressed

Psychological Question Addressed

Psychological Question Addressed

Psychological Process 3:

Social Area:

Intervention Technique:

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Greg Walton & Timothy Wilson