March 8, 2017

Mindset also affects social development

In a new paper David Yeager (2017) explores the possible relation between mindset and problem behavior of adolescents. He describes how, in reaction to social problems such as being bullied or excluded, a fixed mindset (the belief that people cannot change) may lead to self-blame and other-blame and also may predict more extreme affective, physiological, and behavioral responses such as depression and aggression.

Mindset and social interactions

Yeager focuses on how adolescents with fixed mindsets and growth mindset differ in the ways in which they view the world, pay attention to things in social situations, appraise events, and respond to events. The table below, taken from the paper, summarizes these differences.

Next, Yeager describes how over time, in adolescents with a fixed mindset, problem behavior can develop such as avoiding social contact and aggressive behavior along with emotions such as despair and/or desire for revenge. (see figure on the right).


This paper raises two important issues. First, mindset does not only refer to intelligence of cognitive functioning. It also affects social behavior and development. Second, it would be wise for schools to offer interventions which help internalize a growth mindset. This will probably not only benefit the cognitive development but also the social development of students.

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