Support for Increasing Low-Wage Workers’ Compensation: The Role of Fixed-Growth Mindsets About Intelligence

Shilpa Madan, Anyi Ma, Neeraj Pandey, Aneeta Rattan, Krishna Savani

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Approximately 44% of U.S. workers are low-wage workers. Recent years have witnessed a raging debate about whether to raise their minimum wages. Why do some decision-makers support raising wages and others do not? Ten studies (four preregistered) examined people’s beliefs about the malleability of intelligence as a key antecedent. The more U.S. human resource managers (Study 1) and Indian business owners (Study 2) believed that people’s intelligence can grow (i.e., had a growth mindset), the more they supported increasing low-wage workers’ compensation. In key U.S. swing states (Study 3a), and a nationally representative sample (Study 3b), residents with a more growth mindset were more willing to support ballot propositions increasing the minimum wage and other compensation. Study 4 provided causal evidence. The next two studies confirmed the specificity of the predictor. People’s beliefs about the malleability of intelligence, but not personality (Study 5a) or effort (Study 5b), predicted their support for increasing low-wage workers’ compensation. Study 6 examined multiple potential mechanisms, including empathy, attributions for poverty, and environmental affordances. The relationship between growth mindset and support for raising low-wage workers’ wages was explained by more situational rather than dispositional attributions for poverty. Finally, Studies 7a and 7b replicated the effect of growth mindset on support for increasing low-wage workers’ compensation and provided confirmatory evidence for the mediator—situational, rather than dispositional, attributions of poverty. These findings suggest that growth mindsets about intelligence promote support for increasing low-wage workers’ wages; we discuss the theoretical and practical implications.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • Attributions
  • Fixed-growth mindsets
  • Lay theories
  • Low-wage workers
  • Minimum wage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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