Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

I’d like to share a bit about the concept of a growth mindset developed by Carol Dweck. A person with a fixed mindset believes intelligence is simply an inborn trait. A person with a growth mindset might value challenge as an opportunity for growth. But this isn’t simply a case of how having a positive attitude overcomes failure and deficiency. It’s more about how one approaches failure and challenge, and uses that to grow and improve vs. confirm self-perceived notions of ability or limitations. And it’s not a denial that individuals have different genetics and abilities, but more what is done with those. This has significant implications for educators in how we teach and assess students, for parents in how we raise our kids, and in adults in how we conduct ourselves. These are also not mutually exclusive. You can have a mixture of both depending on the circumstance.

Generally, a fixed mindset results in individuals avoiding challenges, losing interest and discontinuing trying when faced with struggle and failure as these contradict one’s self-perception of their intelligence and ability. No one likes to feel inadequate. So an individual with a fixed mindset often has a need to reaffirm their fixed intelligence by cheating, seeking the easy path to praise, or simply lying about their accomplishments.

Conversely, a growth mindset can result in individuals approaching these same challenges and struggles with renewed vigor and interest. This is because if you don’t feel your intelligence and talent is fixed, you can learn from mistakes and challenge to try new avenues to successful completion of the task, you can grow your abilities and achieve greater success. Yo0u might even be able to grow your intelligence. Recent brain research shows that this is indeed the case. I suppose the ideal is “natural” inherited genius and a growth mindset! Below are two short videos that provide some better explanation.


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