Growth vs. Fixed mindsets

Can changing your views on ability affect your learning?

Growth v.s Fixed mindsets

Many people think that intelligence and ability is something you are born with, that you can't change or improve. Other people see intelligence and ability as something that can change and be improved, with enough effort. These outlooks on ability are known as mindsets, and they have surprising, drastic affects on how people learn and succeed.

Fixed Mindset

People who have fixed mindsets think that intelligence is something you are born with that cannot be improved. They also think that effort is for people who aren't smart("If I have to work at it, it's too hard for me") In studies performed by researchers such as Carol Dweck, kids with fixed mindsets have less brain activity when confronted with a challenge, are more likely to take the easy option if it is offered to them, and, if all else has failed, their brain's last way of coping with their failure is to lie about their scores or achievements. People with fixed mindsets are also more concerned about how others will judge them, and are more focused on the end result than the process of learning.

Growth Mindset

People with growth mindsets believe that intelligence can be grown and improved. These people see effort and challenge as the way to learn, and are less likely to walk away from something if they don't succeed at it first try. The benefits of having a growth mindset are noticeable; in studies, people with growth mindsets have more brain activity when confronted with a challenge, they do better in many different areas, from music to sports, and students with growth mindsets have been shown to improve their grades over time. People with growth mindsets are more concerned with learning than how they are judged, and see the process of learning as more important than the end result.

Students, here's what you can do.

Having a growth mindset has many benefits for school, sports, or other activities. If you want to make sure you have one, here are a few tips:

1. Listen to yourself. If you hear yourself saying, "I can't do it," add "yet."

2. If you come across something difficult, don't give up! You can get it eventually.

3. Remember, learning is a process. If you fail at something, don't dwell on it. Use the experience to learn from.

4. Help your friends! If one of your friends has a fixed mindset when they're stuck on something, remind them that they can figure out how to do it.

5. Finally, don't forget that success requires hard work, but also tends to have a lot of setbacks. If you keep going, then you will succeed and get better.


"The power of belief-mindset and success", Eduardo Briceno, TED talks, Nov 18, 2012.

'The power of believing you can improve," Carol Dweck, TED talks, Nov. 2014.