Fixed or Growth Mindset?
What she found was that those with a fixed mindset were only interested in hearing feedback that reflected directly on their present ability, but tuned out information that could help them learn and improve. They even showed no interest in hearing the right answer when they had gotten a question wrong, because they had already filed it away in the failure category.
These findings are especially important in education and how we, as a culture, assess intelligence. In another study of hundreds of students, mostly adolescents, Dweck and her colleagues gave each ten fairly challenging problems from a nonverbal IQ test, then praised the student for his or her performance — most had done pretty well. You must have worked really hard. The findings, at this point, are unsurprising yet jarring:. The ability praise pushed students right into the fixed mindset, and they showed all the signs of it, too: When we gave them a choice, they rejected a challenging new task that they could learn from.
In contrast, when students were praised for effort, 90 percent of them wanted the challenging new task that they could learn from. Dweck puts it poignantly:. But for the effort-praised kids, the difficulty was simply an indication that they had to put in more effort, not a sign of failure or a reflection of their poor intellect.
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The latter also had significant improvements in their performance as the problems got harder, while the former kept getting worse and worse, as if discouraged by their own success-or-failure mindset. It gets better — or worse, depending on how we look at it: The most unsettling finding came after the IQ questions were completed, when the researchers asked the kids to write private letters to their peers relaying the experience, including a space for reporting their scores on the problems. She laments:. Being that somebody who is worthier than the nobodies.
But one of the most profound applications of this insight has to do not with business or education but with love.
Mindsets | Psychology Today
The growth mindset says all of these things can be developed. All — you, your partner, and the relationship — are capable of growth and change. In the fixed mindset, the ideal is instant, perfect, and perpetual compatibility. Like it was meant to be. Like riding off into the sunset. One problem is that people with the fixed mindset expect everything good to happen automatically. She cites a study that invited people to talk about their relationships:.
Those with the fixed mindset felt threatened and hostile after talking about even minor discrepancies in how they and their partner saw their relationship. Dweck offers a reality check:. Just as there are no great achievements without setbacks, there are no great relationships without conflicts and problems along the way. When people with a fixed mindset talk about their conflicts, they assign blame. Sometimes they blame themselves, but often they blame their partner.
The Importance of Mindset
And they assign blame to a trait — a character flaw. So once people with the fixed mindset see flaws in their partners, they become contemptuous of them and dissatisfied with the whole relationship. They see conflicts as problems of communication, not of personality or character. Dweck summarizes her findings:. In a good relationship, people develop these skills and, as they do, both partners grow and the relationship deepens. What it all comes down to is that a mindset is an interpretative process that tells us what is going on around us.
In a growth mindset, on the other hand, the internal monologue is not one of judgment but one of voracious appetite for learning, constantly seeking out the kind of input that you can metabolize into learning and constructive action.
In the rest of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success , Dweck goes on to explore how these fundamental mindsets form, what their defining characteristics are in different contexts of life, and how we can rewire our cognitive habits to adopt the much more fruitful and nourishing growth mindset. Public domain photographs via Flickr Commons.
Fixed vs. She writes: For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. Dweck writes: Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? She writes: When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. The findings, at this point, are unsurprising yet jarring: The ability praise pushed students right into the fixed mindset, and they showed all the signs of it, too: When we gave them a choice, they rejected a challenging new task that they could learn from.
Dweck puts it poignantly: If success had meant they were intelligent, then less-than-success meant they were deficient. She cites a study that invited people to talk about their relationships: Those with the fixed mindset felt threatened and hostile after talking about even minor discrepancies in how they and their partner saw their relationship. Dweck offers a reality check: Just as there are no great achievements without setbacks, there are no great relationships without conflicts and problems along the way.
Share Article Tweet. Therefore they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement. Recent advances in neuroscience have shown us that the brain is far more malleable than we ever knew. Research on brain plasticity has shown how connectivity between neurons can change with experience. With practice, neural networks grow new connections, strengthen existing ones, and build insulation that speeds transmission of impulses. These neuroscientific discoveries have shown us that we can increase our neural growth by the actions we take, such as using good strategies, asking questions, practicing, and following good nutrition and sleep habits.
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At the same time that these neuroscientific discoveries were gaining traction, researchers began to understand the link between mindsets and achievement. It turns out, if you believe your brain can grow, you behave differently. And if so, how? For example, 7th graders who were taught that intelligence is malleable and shown how the brain grows with effort showed a clear increase in math grades. Download the lesson plan used in this intervention! In addition to teaching kids about malleable intelligence, researchers started noticing that teacher practice has a big impact on student mindset, and the feedback that teachers give their students can either encourage a child to choose a challenge and increase achievement or look for an easy way out.
For example, studies on different kinds of praise have shown that telling children they are smart encourages a fixed mindset, whereas praising hard work and effort cultivates a growth mindset. When students have a growth mindset, they take on challenges and learn from them, therefore increasing their abilities and achievement. Read more about how teacher practices impact student mindsets and achievement. What does growth mindset teaching look like in the real world? When we take the research out of the laboratory and into the classroom, we see amazing results.
One such case study is Fiske Elementary School. With a diverse student population of English language learners and special education students, the administrators at Fiske infused growth mindset into the school culture by starting with teacher mindsets. While state test scores in math remained stagnant, Fiske Elementary saw amazing growth, which they attributed to a growth mindset teacher practices and culture shift.
Read more Case Studies about closing the gap between research and practice. Growth mindset: the understanding that abilities and intelligence can be developed. One way is to identify where you may have fixed mindset tendencies so that you can work to become more growth minded.