February 20, 2016

How the fixed mindset makes the consequences of rejection worse

Since long, it has been known that how we interpret events in our lives has a strong influence on our feelings and behavior and, because of that, also on future events in our lives. An example of an event which can have a strong emotional impact is to get personally rejected. As new research by Howe & Dweck (2016) shows, the degree to which people can recover from personal rejection depends on how they think about personality.

People with a fixed mindset - this means that they think that personality is hardly malleable - tend to think that rejection says something essential about them. In other words, to them, rejection is self-defitional. This process of self-definition happens regardless of the severity of the rejection. This process of taking rejection very personal like this causes people with fixed mindsets to be more vulnerable to it. It causes them more lasting damage and it makes them more fearful of being rejected again in the future.

Howe and Dweck also demonstrated that teaching a growth mindset to these people leads to an improvement. When these people start to believe more that personality can change rejection becomes less self-definitional to them. This diminishes their emotional burdon.

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