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

by Nichole Boigegrain

Faculty mentor: Dr. Holly Schiffrin

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.

Caregivers’ Failure Mindset, Helicopter Parenting, and Emerging Adults’ Intelligence Mindset by Nichole Boigegrain

16 Replies to “Caregivers’ Failure Mindset, Helicopter Parenting, and Emerging Adults’ Intelligence Mindset”

  1. Very cool study, Nichole! You’ll have to tell me more about it next semester and bring your stats knowledge to OB 🙂

    Professor Dunn

  2. Thank you for sharing your findings. You touched a little on the gender of the children. I was curious if birth order of the child could also have an impact on the type of parenting exhibited.

    1. Unfortunately there is not a lot of consistent research out there on birth order in relation to parenting. Some of the research out there shows that parents don’t helicopter parent all their children equally, but it seems that how they parent is more dependent on where the child lives, if they are in school, if the child has kids of their own, etc., not birth order. But it is definitely a great idea for future research!

  3. I’ve been intrigued by the idea of mindset since I first encountered it at a conference. I can see how it would be quite hard to study “transmission” of mindset across generations without complex multi-generational longitudinal work. That said, I find the idea that mindset can contribute to helicopter parenting patterns an intriguing one.

    1. It definitely is an interesting idea! It was very exciting to learn and read all about it.

  4. Congratulations to Nichole who successfully defended a longer version of this presentation to her honors committee today and will graduate departmental honors in psychology!!!

    1. Thank you Dr. Schiffrin for all your help!!! It wouldn’t have been possible without you!

  5. I thought this was explained really well. Research methods is a fairly new concept for me, I particularly enjoyed the organization of your presentation and the details included which made it easier for me to understand the core content. Thank you!

  6. Wow, your topic was interesting and your research-design was well-planned! Good job!

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