To achieve, we need more than inborn ability—we need the right mindset. David Yeager is a leading expert in grit, performance, and the growth mindset: the belief that we can change, adapt, and make progress. He studies the ways students and adults feel like they belong and are respected; that their work is relevant and purposeful; and that they can overcome setbacks and continue to improve.
David Yeager is an experimental development psychologist in the department of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. In his academic research, he examines the causes of and solutions to adolescent health problems, such as bullying, depression, academic achievement, cheating, trust, or healthy eating. He often focuses on adolescent transitions—the transition to middle school, the transition to high school, or the transition to college—as a place where there is great opportunity (and risk) for young people’s trajectories. Formerly, Yeager was a middle school English teacher and a K-8 PE coach for a school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He also coached middle school basketball and ran the after-school book club.
In May 2014, he was the subject of a major New York Times Magazine article (“Who Gets to Graduate?”) by education speaker Paul Tough, in which he was named “one of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of education.” He has co-authored work on grit and grit-testing with Angela Duckworth and on growth mindset with Carol Dweck. And he’s been quoted in high-profile articles on academic tenacity by Scott Barry Kaufman. In May, 2013, Dr. Yeager chaired and co-hosted a national summit on mindset interventions at the White House Office for Science and Technology Policy. This event led to the launch and co-chairing of the “Mindset Scholars Network,” an interdisciplinary research network housed at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS), where he was a 2014-2015 fellow. There are two flagship projects of the Mindset Scholars Network: the “National Mindset Study,” a test of mindset interventions in a national probability sample of high schools, and the “College Transition Collaborative,” which will test social-belonging interventions with a census of matriculating students at over a dozen colleges. His work has appeared in places like The New York Times, The Atlantic, Scientific American, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and beyond.
Yeager holds a PhD and MA from Stanford University, and a BA and MEd from the University of Notre Dame. He is a William T. Grant Foundation scholar, a Fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a Faculty Research Associate at the UT Population Research Center, and a Faculty Research Fellow at the UT Dana Center. His research has earned awards from the Spencer Foundation, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, the Society for Research on Child Development, the American Educational Research Association, Division 7 of the American Psychological Association (APA), the APA Science Directorate, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), and the International Society for Research on Aggression. He is a member of the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group and the New Paths to Purpose network at the University of Chicago.