top of page

Growth Mindset Vs Fixed Mindset

Have you ever wondered what is your mindset when you think about yourself ?

  • A growth mindset is how much you believe your basic qualities, like intelligence and talent, can be changed or developed.

  • A fixed mindset is how much you believe your basic qualities are fixed or permanent.


Who identified the Growth Mindset?

Psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University was the first to describe the growth mindset. In her ground-breaking research, Dweck investigated why some people fail and others succeed. 

In one study, high school students were challenged with puzzles that ranged from easy to difficult. Much to the surprise of researchers, some students embraced failure and treated it as a learning experience, and this positive attitude was what Dweck later coined the ‘growth mindset’.

Dweck’s research also found, contrary to popular opinion, that it’s more beneficial not to praise talent or natural abilities but praise the process. In particular, effort, strategies, persistence, and resilience should be rewarded. These processes play a major role in providing constructive feedback and creating a positive student-teacher relationship.

Dweck later noted, in a 2015 article, that while effort is an important part of a growth mindset, it shouldn't be the main focus of praise. Effort should be a means to learning and improving. When fostering a growth mindset, continue telling yourself "great effort" after finishing a task, but also look for ways to improve next time—so you feel good in the short and long term.

Growth Mindset examples:  I believe that everyone can learn something new and become good at it over time.

  • I always try, even if I think I will fail - failure is just another opportunity to learn, which can help me succeed the next time;

  • I can always become better if I try, it depends on my effort;

  • I think that every opportunity is a chance to grow my knowledge, I can always learn something new;

  • Most importantly: I never say, "I can't."

Fixed Mindset examples: I believe that people are born smart or dumb and can never change.

  • I think it is too late for most people to learn and gain a new perspective;

  • I take constructive feedback as personal criticism;

  • I am who I am, and there is nothing I can do to change that;

  • I believe that once something happens, it can't be fixed or changed;

  • I give up when something is hard or it feels like I am unable to do it right.

A growth mindset views intelligence and talent as qualities that can be developed over time. This doesn’t mean that people with a growth mindset assume that they could be the next Einstein—there are still variables in what we can all achieve. A growth mindset simply means that people believe their intelligence and talents can be improved through effort and actions. 

A growth mindset also recognizes that setbacks are a necessary part of the learning process and allows people to ‘bounce back’ by increasing motivational effort.

This kind of mindset sees ‘failings’ as temporary and changeable, and as such, a growth mindset is crucial for learning, resilience, motivation, and performance.

Those who adopt a growth mindset are more likely to:

  • Embrace lifelong learning

  • Believe intelligence can be improved

  • Put in more effort to learn

  • Believe effort leads to mastery

  • Believe failures are just temporary setbacks

  • View feedback as a source of information

  • Willingly embraces challenges

  • View others’ success as a source of inspiration

  • View feedback as an opportunity to learn

In a fixed mindset, people believe attributes, such as talent and intelligence, are fixed—that's to say, they believe they’re born with the level of intelligence and natural talents they’ll reach in adulthood. 

A fixed-minded person usually avoids challenges in life, gives up easily, and becomes intimidated or threatened by the success of other people. This is in part because a fixed mindset doesn't see intelligence and talent as something you develop—it's something you "are". 

Fixed mindsets can lead to negative thinking. For instance, a person with a fixed mindset might fail at a task and believe it's because they aren't smart enough to do it. Whereas a growth mindset person might fail at the same task and believe it's because they need to spend more time practicing. 

People with a fixed mindset believe individual traits cannot change, no matter how much effort you put in, and are more likely to:

  • Believe intelligence and talent are static

  • Avoid challenges to avoid failure

  • Ignore feedback from others

  • Feel threatened by the success of others

  • Hide flaws so as not to be judged by others

  • Believe putting in effort is worthless

  • View feedback as personal criticism

  • Give up easily

Can a person’s mindset change?

Just as someone can grow and develop their intellect, a person is also capable of changing brain functions and their thinking patterns.  Neuroscience shows us that the brain continues to develop and change, even as adults.

The brain is similar to plastic in that it can be remolded over time, as new neural pathways form. This has led scientists to identify the tendency of the brain to change through growth and reorganization as ‘neuroplasticity’. 

Studies have shown the brain can grow new connections, strengthen existing ones, and improve the speed of pulse transmission. These suggest that a person with a fixed mindset can slowly develop a growth mindset. According to Dr. Carol Dweck, you can change your mindset from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. This is also supported by neuroscience studies demonstrating the malleability of self-attributes such as intelligence.


How to develop a growth mindset?

Researchers have found that it is possible to promote a growth mindset by teaching students about neuroscience evidence showing the brain is malleable and improves through effort.

There are several ways to develop a growth mindset:

1. Realize that, scientifically, you can improve

One of the most direct methods of fostering a growth mindset is by understanding our brains are built to grow and learn. By challenging yourself with new experiences, you can form or strengthen neural connections to ‘rewire’ your brain which, in turn, can make you smarter. 

2. Remove the ‘fixed mindset’ inner voice

Many people have a negative inner voice that acts against a growth mindset. Try to flip thoughts such as ‘I can’t do this’, to ‘I can do this if I keep practicing’ to nurture a growth mindset.


3. Reward the process

Although society often rewards those who achieve excellent outcomes, this can work against a growth mindset. Instead, reward the process and the effort exerted. One study by Dr. Carol Dweck showed that rewarding effort over results on a maths game improved performance.

4. Get feedback

Try and seek feedback on your work. When students are provided with progressive feedback about what they did well and where they can improve, it creates motivation to keep going. Feedback is also associated with a pleasurable dopamine response and enhances a growth mindset.

5. Get out of your comfort zone

Being brave enough to leave your comfort zone can help foster a growth mindset. When faced with a challenge, try to choose the harder option that will allow you to grow.

6. Accept failure as part of the process

Failure, setbacks, and initial confusion are all part of the learning process! When trying   something new,see occasional ‘failures’ as positive learning opportunities—try to enjoy the discovery process along the way. 

7 views0 comments


bottom of page