Domain Specificity or Generality: Assessing the Chinese Implicit Theories Scale of Six Fundamental Psychological Attributes

Shimin Zhu, Yanqiong Zhuang, Sing Hang Cheung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Implicit theories have been widely studied in different domains; however, it is still debatable whether these theories are domain-specific or domain-general. Using the Implicit Theories Scale (ITS) about six fundamental psychological attributes, i.e., intelligence, personality, cognition, feeling, behavior, and emotion, we examined domain specificity versus generality using a factor analytic approach; in addition, we investigated associations between implicit theories about these domains and related psychological attributes. In four sequential studies, we translated a Chinese version of the ITS (Study 1), tested inter-item correlations within and between subscales (Studies 1–4), and conducted exploratory factor analysis (Studies 2 and 3) and confirmatory factor analysis (Studies 3 and 4). We tested associations between implicit theory domains and coping, resilience, grit, and school performance (Studies 3 and 4). Results showed that the six ITS subscales were independent, while the implicit theories about cognition, feeling, behavior, and emotion shared a common component. The implicit theories of intelligence and personality were independent and did not share a common component. The six domains presented different patterns of association with psychological variables. Overall, our results suggest that implicit theories are both domain-specific and domain-general. Future studies are needed to examine the mechanism underlying the domain specificity and generality of implicit theories.

Original languageEnglish
Article number142
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2020


  • domains
  • entity theories
  • implicit theories
  • incremental theories
  • psychological attributes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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