Carol Dweck on the Foundation of Mindset

Growth mindset is on a firm foundation, but we’re still building the house

~ Carol Dweck, January 18, 2017

In science, we build a firm foundation and then we keep renovating the house. We find interesting results, we are fascinated by them, we don’t always trust them, so we go back and replicate them. We also challenge them by asking, where will this not work? When does the effect go away? How can we use better methods to test our theories? As part of this process, scientists ask each other questions. Recently, other scientists asked us some questions about three of our papers. We took this very seriously, carefully considered each inquiry, delved into the studies again (in some cases reanalyzing the data), and prepared three documents, each detailing our process and our findings (here, here, and here). In each case, we showed that the conclusions reached in the paper were sound. But, as with anything that helps make science better, we were grateful for the questions because they pointed out areas for improvement or clarity, and because we believe in open science. It is important however to consider these questions in light of a large body of work. The growth mindset story does not rest on a handful of isolated studies. Research in this area has been ongoing for 30 years and the field has amassed a large body of work. A meta-analysis published in 2013 found 113 studies conducted by many authors and concluded that mindsets are a significant factor in people’s self-regulation toward goals.

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