Three findings on growth mindset cultures in organizations and classrooms
Broadly speaking, there are two ways to think about the malleability of our traits and capabilities. When we have a growth mindset, we see traits and abilities as developable. In a fixed mindset we see them as not or hardly capable of development. In addition to individual mindsets, there are also mindset cultures. Researchers Wallace et al. (2023) explored the impacts of these cultures, uncovering three findings about growth mindset cultures in organizations and classrooms.
Effects of growth mindset cultures
Wallace et al. conducted the following four studies:
► Study 1: Participants (N=796) expressed their opinions about MCM Consulting, an imaginary consulting company. There were two descriptions of the company. In the first description it profiled itself with a growth mindset culture, in the second with a fixed mindset culture. The results showed that the company's promotion of a growth mindset increased its appeal to participants. This attraction was especially strong among participants who also had a personal growth mindset.
► Study 2: Participants (N=793) received information about the XYZ Organization, a nonprofit tutoring organization. They read minutes of a meeting discussing whether the organization would adopt a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. The results showed that participants who received the growth mindset information predominantly viewed the XYZ Organization as a growth mindset organization. Participants with a personal growth mindset felt more connected to the growth mindset organization and showed more interest in it. Those with a fixed mindset had no clear preference.
► Study 3: In this study (N=263), the researchers looked at how students think about the mindset of their teachers. These students watched a video of a fake teacher who showed either a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. They then shared their opinion about the teacher and their own mindset. The students clearly recognized the mindset of the teacher from the video. They were especially attracted to and connected to teachers with a growth mindset, especially if they felt that way themselves. Similar to the previous two studies, this study showed that teachers with a growth mindset create a better sense of inclusion among students.
► Study 4: Among 814 students from 46 STEM courses, researchers examined the effect of matching personal and organizational growth mindsets on their sense of belonging and performance. Students with a growth mindset in particular felt more connected when their teachers also had a growth mindset. It is striking that students with a fixed mindset performed better when their teachers had a growth mindset (instead of a fixed mindset).
Wallace et al.'s research highlights the benefits of a growth mindset culture in organizations and classrooms. The following three findings emerged:
- that people with a growth mindset are more attracted to environments with a growth mindset culture
- that we generally feel more engaged and better motivated when we learn and perform within a growth mindset culture
- that students with a fixed mindset in particular perform better if their teachers have a growth mindset (instead of a fixed mindset)
It would be good if managers and teachers were aware of the dominant mindset in their organization. Encouraging a growth mindset can lead to increased engagement and satisfaction, especially for individuals with a fixed mindset.