Nearly all students experience stress as they pursue important academic goals. Because stress can be magnified for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, it becomes important to identify interventions that can help mitigate this stress, particularly for these populations as they enter academic environments. We examine the effects of stress mindset and stress management interventions administered to students from disadvantaged backgrounds (N = 140) before freshman year. We compare effects on affect, sleep, and performance during end-of-year exams seen in a subset of these students who could be tracked via experience sampling (N = 57) to those of a comparison group at the same elite university (N = 74) receiving no such stress interventions. As predicted, we find significant differences in exam-week positive affect between the stress mindset and comparison groups. However, there was no difference in positive affect between the stress mindset and management groups or the stress management and comparison groups. For negative affect, stress, sleep, and exam performance, we find no significant differences between any of the three groups. However, both stress interventions decoupled the significant negative association between exam-week stress and exam performance exhibited by the comparison group, rendering the relationship nonsignificant. The reduction in this association was somewhat more pronounced for the mindset relative to the management group. These findings suggest that mindset and management approaches both confer benefits in certain circumstances and highlight the potential value of targeting mindsets about stress using a "wise intervention" approach for students from disadvantaged backgrounds during stressful times.

J.P. Goyer, A.J. Crum, R. Grunberg, and Modupe Akinola
Newspaper/Magazine Article
Publication Date

Full Citation

Goyer, J.P., A.J. Crum, R. Grunberg, and Modupe Akinola
. “Thriving under pressure: The effects of stress-related wise interventions on affect, sleep, and exam performance for disadvantaged college students.”
. December 22, 2022.