IS ENTITY THEORY OF INTELLIGENCE ALWAYS MALADAPTIVE? : CONTEXTUALIZING IMPLICIT THEORIES OF INTELLIGENCE

Neha Arora

Abstract


Previous studies on implicit theories of intelligence have largely been done to prove the hypothesis that incremental theories are adaptive whereas entity theories are maladaptive. Moreover, these studies have viewed psychological disengagement (adopted by entity theorists) negatively by calling it a self-handicapping strategy. They have only tried to answer, “how” endorsing a particular theory results in adaption or maladaptation.  It is worth noting that since these theories have emerged in the dominant American culture, the researchers have assumed the significance of a particular domain as given. They have completely ignored the dimension of power and resistance in their definition of adaptation.

This paper attempts to answer the “why” aspect of endorsing a particular implicit theory. No theory in the past has focused on why some people endorse entity and others incremental. It is argued here that the methodological framework of research on the adaptive/maladaptive value of any implicit theory of intelligence should allow the researcher to question/challenge the taken for granted assumptions inherent in mainstream educational discourse such as desirability of goal, the best strategy to achieve such goals. Therefore, the resistance perspective seems an appropriate methodological framework as it looks at psychological disengagement as a form of resistance. Taking adaptation in a broader sense and including such aspects as compliance and resistance in it, gives a chance to look at the adaptive value of those who endorse entity view. This paper provides some useful insights for the future research in the domain of implicit theories of intelligence.


Keywords


implicit theories, adaptation, self-handicapping strategies, psychological disengagement

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