January 19, 2017

Don't write off mindset theory yet

In my previous post I mentioned recent criticism of research into mindset. As I wrote in that post I view it as a good thing that the concept of mindset is criticized. For knowledge to develop anything can and should be criticized. Part of the criticism doesn't convince me, and part of it I find interesting and seems justified (for example some of the points made by Brown and Bates). The article on Buzzfeed which I mentioned contains interesting points but is also a bit one-sided. The impression is given that mindset theory is based only on a few studies and that theses studies' findings are questionable.

Jesse Singal withdraws his critical post on mindset

Jesse Singal went a step further in a post he wrote on Wednesday for New York Magazine called A wildly popular education theory may be collapsing. In this brief article he explicitly said that mindset theory was largely based on the article by Mueller & Dweck (1998) which is now criticized. I planned to write a post today in which I would explain that, in fact,  a great amount of research has been done since the 1970's. But Jesse Singal beat me to it. He withdrew his original post and wrote a new one after having been contacted by mindset researcher David Yaeger. In this new post Singal admits his mistake (also here) and he writes that he had been sloppy and that he should have informed himself better about the research into mindset.

David Yeager: meta-analyses support mindset theory

David Yeager (photo) send two meta-analyses to Singal which support mindset theory. The first meta-analysis was done by Burnette et al. (2012) on 113 studies. It showed that mindset predicts self-regulation and goal achievement. The second meta-analysis by Lazowski & Hulleman (2016) was done on 74 studies in the educational context and it showed that mindset interventions help to improve educational outcomes.

My remarks

Even these two meta-analyses only show a fraction of the research into mindsets. There is much more. For examples, take a look at the research by Smiley et al. (2016) which largely supports mindset theory. And take a look at the large scale study by Claro et al. (2016) which shows that the effect of mindset is about as strong a predictor of academic performance as social-economic background. For more examples click here.

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