Research at PERTS

Our team has produced several groundbreaking research papers in the field of psychology. We continue to validate and test these findings in all of the work that we do.

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Our research has been published in the world’s top behavioral science journals.


Our research isn’t run in a lab—we’ve had tens of thousands of student participating in our research projects.

Impact focused

Our interventions have measurably raised GPAs, decreased dropout rates, and reduced achievement gaps.

Selected Research

Mindset Interventions Are a Scalable Treatment for Academic Underperformance  

Presents results from a randomized controlled trial in which a brief growth mindset intervention and a brief purpose for learning intervention raised academic achievement among students at-risk for dropping out of high school.

Paunesku, D., Walton, G.M., Romero, C.L., Smith, E.N., Yeager, D.S., & Dweck, C.S. (2015). Mindset Interventions are a Scalable Treatment for Academic Underachievement. Psychological Science.

A Brief Intervention to Encourage Empathic Discipline Cuts Suspension Rates in Half Among Adolescents  

A series of studies demonstrated that a punitive approach to discipline can exacerbate student misbehavior. Study 3 was an RCT of a brief, online professional development activity for teachers. The activity promoted a more empathic approach to discipline and cut student suspension rates by 50%.

Okonofua, J.A., Paunesku, D., & Walton, G.M. (in press). A Brief Intervention to Encourage Empathic Discipline Cuts Suspension Rates in Half Among Adolescents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Teaching a lay theory before college narrows achievement gaps at scale  

Lay theory interventions raised first-year full-time college enrollment among students from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds exiting a high-performing charter high school network or entering a public flagship university (experiments 1 and 2) and, at a selective private university, raised disadvantaged students’ cumulative first-year grade point average (experiment 3).

Yeager, D. S., Walton, G. M., Brady, S. T., Akcinar, E. N., Paunesku, D., Keane, L., Kamentz, D., Ritter, G., Duckworth, A. L., Urstein, R., Gomez E., Markus, H. R. Cohen, G. L., & Dweck, C. S. (2016). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Using design thinking to improve psychological interventions: The case of the growth mindset during the transition to high school  

A randomized controlled trial replicated the results of Paunesku et al. (2015). It reaffirmed that direct-to-student mindset interventions can raise high school GPA for initially low- performing students. The article presents a design-thinking process that was used to improve the intervention.

Yeager, D. S., Romero, C., Paunesku, D., Hulleman, C. S., Schneider, B., Hinojosa, C., ... & Trott, J. (2016). Using Design Thinking to Improve Psychological Interventions: The Case of the Growth Mindset During the Transition to High School. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(3), 374.

Growth mindset tempers the effects of poverty on academic achievement  

An analysis of a public use dataset containing mindset surveys scores, math and language standardized test scores, and family income from all public school 10th graders in the nation of Chile showed that a growth mindset is beneficial to the test scores of all students and especially important for the test scores of low income students.

Claro, S., Paunesku, D., & Dweck, C. S. (2016). Growth Mindset Tempers the Effects of Poverty on Academic Achievement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201608207.

Boring but Important: A self-transcendent purpose for learning fosters academic self-regulation  

A number of studies demonstrate that students are more motivated when they possess a "purpose for learning" — when they understand how learning today will help them accomplish meaningful goals in the future.

Yeager, D.S., Henderson, H., 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), 559-580.

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We are always on the search for schools and organizations to be a part of our research. If you’d like to learn more, contact us.

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