Selected Projects

Regulation of Motivation
In conjunction with Dr. Abigail Scholer at the University of Waterloo and Dr. Kentaro Fujita at The Ohio State University, we are investigating how students regulate both the quantity and quality of their motivation to engage in particular tasks. As we explain in our recent review (Miele, Scholer, & Fujita, 2020), we use ‘quantity’ to mean whether or not a student is sufficiently motivated to engage in a task. By quality, we mean the extent to which the student’s motivational orientation fits with the cognitive demands of the task. For instance, use of vigilant information processing strategies may sometimes be better for tasks that involve careful detection of errors (e.g., proofreading, analytic problem-solving), whereas use of eager strategies may be better for tasks that involve creativity and innovation. We have conducted a number of studies examining the extent to which individuals believe that they will be more effective at completing a task that demands vigilance or eagerness if, beforehand, they engage in an activity that puts them in a prevention or promotion orientation (which are associated with vigilant and eager processing, respectively). We are also attempting to identify individual difference factors that predict which students are likely to exhibit motivationally flexible behavior (i.e., to shift between motivational orientations based on the cognitive demands of tasks).

Representative publications

  • Miele, D. B., Fujita, K., & Scholer, A. A. (in press). The role of metamotivational knowledge in  the regulation of motivation. Motivation Science.
  • Miele, D. B., Scholer, A. A., Higgins, E. T. (in press). Exploring performance tradeoffs associated with qualitatively distinct motivations: A dynamic systems approach. In D. Carlston, & K. L. Johnson (Eds.) The Oxford handbook of social cognition (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Hubley, C., Edwards, J., Miele, D. B., & Scholer, A. A. (2024). Metamotivational beliefs about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 126(1), 26–57. Advance online publication.
  • Jansen, E. J., Miele, D. B., Fujita, K., & Scholer, A. A. (2022). Managing the motivation of others: Do managers recognize how to manage regulatory focus in subordinates? Motivation Science, 8(4), 330–345.
  • Miele, D. B., Scholer, A. A., & Fujita, K. (2020). Metamotivation: Emerging research on the regulation of motivational states. In A. Elliot (Ed.), Advances in Motivation Science (Vol. 7). Cambridge, MA: Academic Press.
  • Miele, D. B., & Scholer, A. A. (2018). The role of metamotivational monitoring in motivation regulation. Educational Psychologist, 53, 1-21. [Featured in an episode of APA Division 15 podcast series]
  • Scholer, A. A., & Miele, D. B. (2016). The role of metamotivation in creating task-motivation fit. Motivational Science, 2, 171-197.​

Parents’ and Teachers’ Academic Mindsets
Academic mindsets typically refer to people’s beliefs about the nature of intelligence. Individuals with a growth mindset tend to believe that intelligence can develop incrementally over time with effort. As a result, they tend to interpret academic challenge or failure as an indication that they need to work harder and more effectively. In contrast, individuals with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence is a fixed entity that cannot be improved. They are therefore more likely than individuals with a growth mindset to interpret challenge or failure as an indication that they have reached the limits of their ability and are prone to giving up or withdrawing effort after failure. However, in addition to influencing how individuals perceive their own intellectual abilities, they can also affect how they perceive the abilities of others. We have previously demonstrated that the more of a fixed mindset parents have, the more likely they are to report engaging in performance-oriented parenting practices with their children and the less likely they are to report engaging in mastery-oriented practices. Our recent studies have demonstrated the same association between the mindsets of elementary school teachers and their instructional practices. In addition, the association seems to be stronger when teachers imagine interacting with a student who they perceive to be low (versus high) in ability. That is, teachers with a fixed mindset (or relatively weak growth mindset) seem more likely than teachers with a strong growth mindset to differentiate their instruction based on their perceptions of students’ ability level. This raises the possibility that these teachers may be particularly prone to creating self-fulfilling prophecies.

Representative publications:

  • Miele, D., Perez, S., Butler, R., Browman, A. S., O’Dwyer, L., & McNeish, D. (2019). Elementary school teachers’ growth mindsets predict their differential treatment of high versus low ability students. PsyArXiv.
  • Muenks, K., Miele, D. B., Rowe, M. L., Ramani, G. B., & Stapleton, L. M. (2015). Parental beliefs about the fixedness of ability. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 41, 78-89.

Students’ Beliefs About Ability and Effort
In addition to examining students’ beliefs about the malleability or fixedness of intellectual ability (i.e., their academic mindsets) and the role these beliefs play in their self-regulation, we have also begun to examine other salient beliefs that students hold about how the mind works. For instance, we have conducted studies demonstrating that college students’ sometimes base their judgments of another student’s abilities on the perceived source of that student’s mental effort during task performance. When college students perceive another person’s effort as being task-elicited (i.e., as originating from the demands of the task), they infer this effort to be inversely correlated with ability, such that a high level of effort indicates a low of ability. But, when college students perceive effort as being self-initiated (i.e., as originating from the person’s motivation to go beyond the basic demands of the task), they do not infer an inverse correlation and sometimes even infer a positive correlation.  Broadly, this line of research also includes the work we have done to examine how experiences of remembered success impact students’ task preferences, math values, and math expectancies.

Representative publications:

  • Finn, B., Miele, D. B., & Wigfield, A. (2024). Investigating the remembered success effect with elementary and middle school students. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication.
  • Finn, B., Miele, D. B., & Wigfield, A. (2023). The impact of remembered success experiences on expectancies, values, and perceived costs. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 72, 102143.
  • Finn, B., & Miele, D. B. (2021). Boundary conditions of the remembered success effect. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition10(4), 621-641.
  • Miele, D. B., Browman, A. S., & Vasileyeva, M. (2020). Individual differences in students’ effort source beliefs predict their judgments of ability. Motivation Science, 6, 110-132.
  • Muenks, K., & Miele, D. B. (2017). Students’ thinking about effort and ability: The role of developmental, contextual, and individual difference factors. Review of Educational Research, 87, 707-735.
  • Muenks, K., Miele, D. B., & Wigfield, A. (2016). How students’ perceptions of the source of effort influence their ability evaluations of other students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108, 438-454.
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