Fine Structure

Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets

Sciencegeekgirl wrote about kids who are rewarded for challenging themselves or consistently told that they're smart and the subsequent outlook on intelligence as a static or dynamic feature in life. This "Growth" vs "Fixed" mindset is something I've definitely thought quite a bit about in the past and comes as little surprise that there's research in this area.

What does come as a surprise is her statement that "I know I'm of the 'Fixed' mindset, and it really hampers me in life." I was definitely encouraged as a child by the idea that I was naturally smart and I can tell you a number of occasions where I was set back because I was challenged and felt that I wasn't smart enough. However, I find that knowing I grew up with the "Fixed" mindset is encouraging because I can tell when I go back to that mindset and I can ignore all those signals about not being smart enough. It makes you wonder how you could possibly compare intelligence when the difference is really only how much effort you put towards it. ]


Thanks for the note on my posting. I'm a little unclear on what part of my statement surprised you... In case clarification is needed, I don't feel that I was hampered in my life by *knowing* that I was of the 'Fixed' mindset. Rather, I know that being of the 'Fixed' mindset was a detriment in much of my intellectual activity. If I didn't do well on a test, I took it as a real ego blow and felt upset, rather than taking it as a sign that I needed to study harder. Failure stopped me in my tracks, it was somewhat debilitating, instead of serving as a prod to work harder, because I felt that failure meant that I was not worthy.

September 1, 2008
1:53 PM

From sciencegeekgirl

I totally understand the detriment of having a 'Fixed' mindset. The way I think about it, if your first instinct is to feel 'Fixed' and you can catch that, you've had a better experience than someone who's grown up on 'Growth' and knows only that. 'Fixed' hampered you before you could understand it, but you've had both experiences now - you can relate to both!

I suppose you could boil it down to the distinction of "I was hampered" versus "I am hampered." Does that make more sense?

September 2, 2008
2:29 PM

From Nick