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Posted by: | Posted on: October 9, 2017

The difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset

The difference between a “fixed mindset” and a “growth mindset”


Dweck has primary research interests in motivation, personality, and development. She teaches courses in Personality and Social Development as well as Motivation. Her key contribution to social psychology relates to implicit theories of intelligence, per her 2008 book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

According to Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from. Some believe their success is based on innate ability; these are said to have a “fixed” theory of intelligence (fixed mindset). Others, who believe their success is based on hard work, learning, training and doggedness are said to have a “growth” or an “incremental” theory of intelligence (growth mindset). Individuals may not necessarily be aware of their own mindset, but their mindset can still be discerned based on their behavior. It is especially evident in their reaction to failure.

Fixed-mindset individuals dread failure because it is a negative statement on their basic abilities, while growth mindset individuals don’t mind or fear failure as much because they realize their performance can be improved and learning comes from failure. These two mindsets play an important role in all aspects of a person’s life. Dweck argues that the growth mindset will allow a person to live a less stressful and more successful life.

Dweck’s definition of fixed and growth mindsets from a 2012 interview: “In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”

This is important because individuals with a “growth” theory are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks and individuals’ theories of intelligence can be affected by subtle environmental cues. For example, children given praise such as “good job, you’re very smart” are much more likely to develop a fixed mindset, whereas if given compliments like “good job, you worked very hard” they are likely to develop a growth mindset. In other words, it is possible to encourage students, for example, to persist despite failure by encouraging them to think about learning in a certain way.

External links:

Stanford University faculty profile page
Carol Dweck’s TED Talk on the Growth Mindset, TEDxNorrkoping, Nov. 2014
Mindset Works: Brainology
“Mindsets – A Conversation with Carol Dweck”, Ideas Roadshow, 2014

Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_Dweck

Our own deductions from this theory:

1. Arrogance is the enemy (killer) of growth in knowledge and competencies

2. Warding off evaluation of shortcomings in personality traits and competencies is the enemy (killer) of growth in knowledge and competencies

3. Refusal of introspection is the enemy (killer) of growth in knowledge and competencies

4. Refusal of self-awareness is the enemy (killer) of growth in knowledge and competencies

5. Conclusion: If a person’s own perception of self-image is out of proportion higher than reality, it can lead to tendencies of acting out an authoritarian leadership style and certainly be a killer of growth in knowledge and leadership competencies.

Our definition of a fixed mindset: The inability to adapt or change opinions and beliefs, based on historical false building blocks.

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