Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education, Health & Behavior Studies

First Advisor

Zarrina Azizova


The purpose of this non-experimental correlational study was to examine the relationship between growth mindset, perceptions of academic stress, alcohol use, and drug use in first-year law students during their first semester of study. Previous researchers found law students reported levels of mental distress during the first semester of law school that were significantly higher than those reported before starting law school. Some commentators have theorized that the stressful nature of law school contributes to – if not creates – this mental distress. This study sought to explore that relationship. Among its 205 participants, this study found a significant positive relationship between perceptions of academic stress and drug use, but not between perceptions of academic stress and alcohol use. Growth mindset of anxiety and growth mindset of intelligence were both significantly and negatively correlated with some perception of academic stress variables, but only growth mindset of anxiety was significantly correlated with drug use. No significant relationship was found between either growth mindset variable and alcohol use. Finally, growth mindset of anxiety was found through hierarchical regression to significantly predict participant drug use only when considered in isolation of other predictor variables. After academic stress variables were introduced into the regression model, growth mindset of anxiety no longer predicted drug use and only academic stress remained a significant predictor of drug use. These results indicate that growth mindset interventions among a law student population could serve to reduce stress, which in turn could reduce law student drug use.