Implicit Theories and Their Role in Judgments and Reactions: A Word From Two Perspectives
In this target article, we present evidence for a new model of individual differences in judgments and reactions. The model holds that people's implicit theories about human attributes structure the way they understand and react to human actions and outcomes. We review research showing that when people believe that attributes (such as intelligence or moral character) are fixed, trait-like entities (an entity theory), they tend to understand outcomes and actions in terms of these fixed traits ("I failed the test because I am dumb" or "He stole the bread because he is dishonest"). In contrast, when people believe that attributes are more dynamic, malleable, and developable (an incremental theory), they tend to focus less on broad traits and, instead, tend to understand outcomes and actions in terms of more specific behavioral or psychological mediators ("I failed the test because of my effort or strategy" or "He stole the bread because he was desperate"). The two frameworks also appear to foster different r...