Showing posts from October, 2015

What is a growth mindset not?

Perhaps a growth mindset sounds attractive. But perhaps it also sounds to good to be true. Therefore, let's have a look at what a growth mindset is and what it is not. Briefly put, a growth mindset is the belief that you can change your abilities though the investment of effective effort. People do not simply either have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. Mindset is not like a switch with just two modes: fixed or growth. Instead, there are many degrees possible. It is better to think of mindset as a continuum than as a switch. Furthermore, mindset can be subject to fluctuations. Influences from our environment continuously act on how we think about the malleability of our abilities. In addition to that, it is normal to have different mindsets with respect to different topics. We may believe that we are able to develop certain abilities but may never improve other abilities.

What do you choose: mastery goals or performance goals?

An important distinction in psychology is the distinction between mastery goals and performance goals. Mastery goals are goals which focus on learning new knowledge and skills. Performance goals are about achieving and competing for outcomes. This distinction is important for education. Should you focus on teaching students to set mastery goals or is it wiser to teach them to set performance goals? What works better?

4 Factors which impede change of beliefs

Because beliefs have such great influence in our lives, it is important to be able to evaluate our beliefs properly and to keep developing them. Beliefs are malleable. We can find out that a belief we used to have is untrue and restricts us in our life. But changing our beliefs is not always easy. That is because, as people, we have certain obstacles which may impede changing our beliefs. I want to mention four of those obstacles.

Activity scheduling and depression

There are different types of ways to deal with mental problems such as depression. Three such ways are: (1) taking medication, (2) going into therapy, and (3) helping yourself to solve it. A lot of research has been done into the efficacy of (1) and (2). Less research has been done into (3). There is a non-cynical interpretation of this but also a more cynical interpretation. I don't know which interpretation is more valid. There may be truth in both of them.

Choosing better education and a growth mindset

Recently I criticized an article by Alfie Kohn in which he criticized Carol Dweck. Whether Kohn does not understand the growth mindset well, and is not well informed about mindset research, or deliberately misleads, I don't know. But what he says, isn't true. I want to focus on one of his criticisms because it contains an especially misleading thought. Kohn suggests that promoting a growth mindset implicitly sends the message to just accept and adjust to the conditions we encounter instead of changing them. I'll explain why this is not true.

The limiting effects of implicit self-beliefs

Our beliefs about ourselves can have a strong impact on how we behave and on how we develop and flourish. We are not always aware of our self-beliefs. There are what we call implicit self-beliefs. An example of such an implicit self-belief might be: "I am not a math person." Researchers Cvencek et al. (2015) of the University of Washington found, in a study with 299 Singaporean elementary-school students that children of this age often already have such implicit beliefs about whether they are or aren't 'math people'.