Bridging the divide between mindset research and mindset practice
The term ‘mindset’ comes from the work of Carol S. Dweck, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Her best-selling book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2006) has sold over a million copies. In 2009, she received the L. Thorndike Award for Career Achievement in Educational Psychology. Previous winners include B. F. Skinner, Benjamin Bloom and Jean Piaget, so she is in good company.
From her decades of research, Professor Dweck has described two contrasting self-theories that she now calls ‘fixed mindset’ and ‘growth mindset’.
People in a fixed mindset think of talents and intelligence as relatively stable and innate. People in a growth mindset think of talents and intelligence as highly responsive to nurture. They don’t deny the role that genetics play but they see nature as the starting point rather than as the defining quality. Dweck examines the reasons why people get into these different mindsets and the impact that has on personality, motivation and development.
The popularity of Dweck’s work is undeniable and yet the theory has been subjected to growing disquiet. Some commentators have complained that mindset equates success with effort; that Dweck overlooks the effects of genetics; and that her work is simply ‘positive thinking’ dressed up for the 21st century, wilfully ignoring the complex causes of accomplishment. The fact that Dweck has never put forward any of these oversimplifications doesn’t seem to stop people asserting that she has. As is so often the case, too many people won’t let facts spoil a great headline!
Some of the critics, having had their fill of sugar-coated renditions of life in a growth mindset, are claiming mindset is all based on a lie. It isn’t. It is based on decades of precise, peer-reviewed, academic research. The problem is more to do with the implementation of a growth mindset: something seems to get lost in translation from research into practice. Our work addresses why this is and what we can all do about it.
Our courses include the pros and the cons of mindset. We examine what is great about mindset and looked at the problems of implementation and over-simplification. We show you why mindset does not matter so much when things are easy; that it is only when faced with challenges that your mindset really matters. We demonstrate that a parents’ response to failure is arguably more important than their mindset when it comes to influencing their children’s mindset. We show that you already hold a mindset, whether or not you like it. So, if you want to examine it and adjust it then get in touch with us!