Develop a Growth Mindset

You can adopt a growth or a fixed mindset

A growth mindset will likely serve you well

Carol Dweck at Stanford University developed the concept of fixed and growth mindsets. People with a fixed mindset tend to regard their intelligence as formed at birth and impervious to improvement. Such people tend to think that their successes reflect their innate intelligence. Their failures reveal limits to their intelligence. People with a growth mindset tend to regard intelligence as malleable. Their successes reflect effort as much as or more than intelligence. Growth mindset people tend to regard failure as reflecting poor preparation or lack of enough effort.

Given the above, wouldn’t it be wonderful if a growth mindset could be taught? In fact, Dweck and her colleagues demonstrated that adolescents can learn a growth mindset. The study sought to determine if students’ beliefs about their intelligence predicted mathematics performance. Students attended weekly 25-minute sessions either in experimental or control groups over eight weeks. The study tracked 373 middle school students over two years.

Sessions 1, 2, 5, and 6 (dealing with the structure and function of the brain; an anti-stereotyping lesson) were identical in both groups. Sessions 3, 4, 7, and 8 differed. In the latter sessions, students in the experimental group read aloud in class about the growth mindset and discussed how learning could make them smarter. Students in the control group read aloud about memory and discussed academic difficulties and successes.

At the beginning of the study, students with fixed and growth mindsets showed no differences in math scores. However, over the two years of the study, the math scores of students with a growth mindset exceeded the scores of students with a fixed mindset. Students who believed that intelligence was malleable pursued their learning goals more diligently and were more likely to believe that working hard was necessary for learning than those who thought intelligence was fixed. Students with a growth mindset were less likely to make ability-based attributions (such as, I’m not smart) or feel helpless when faced with a challenging situation compared to students with a fixed mindset. Read Dweck’s highly engaging book, Mindset, and develop your growth mindset.

Could a brief, one-time intervention change students’ views of the malleability of their personality and lead to more resourceful responses toward adverse events in life? The answer is yes! A single 25-minute intervention employed reading and writing to teach the growth mindset of personality. Namely, that socially relevant aspects can change. Three groups of students entering high school who received the intervention self-reported reduced depressive symptoms nine months afterward, compared to control groups that did not receive the intervention. Brief interventions have the potential to induce positive, long-term behavioral change that can motivate people to adopt better choices and improve our overall health and well-being.

Interventions that foster a growth mindset have profound implications. First, they show that your thoughts and beliefs affect how you learn. Second, if you adopt a growth mindset, you’ll be more likely to adopt the healthy choice of Keep Learning and be more likely will enjoy greater success in the world. You’ll be more likely to thrive in tomorrow’s world than those with a fixed mindset.

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