Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

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  • 0:04 Two Types of Mindsets
  • 0:45 What Is a Fixed Mindset?
  • 1:00 What Is a Growth Mindset?
  • 1:21 Importance of These…
  • 2:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Melissa Oden

Dr. Oden earned a master's degree in Social Work, a master's degreee in Public Health, and a Doctorate in Health Education.

In this lesson, you will learn the difference between the concept of a fixed mindset and the concept of a growth mindset. You will also learn why it is important to cultivate a growth mindset to support future achievement as well as positive psychological health.

Two Types of Mindsets

Two brothers walk out to their backyard the day after a big storm. They stare in shock at their fort, which has been broken apart by heavy winds. It's now just a pile of boards. One brother begins to complain, ''This is horrible! It took us a day to build that fort.'' The other brother, however, starts grabbing boards and stacking them into a pile. He tells his brother, ''This is great! Now we can build a big fire and toast marshmallows.''

Can you see the difference between the two boys' reactions to their situation? For one brother the situation represents failure. But for the other it represents opportunity. Their differing reactions demonstrate the difference between a 'fixed mindset' and a 'growth mindset.'

What Is a Fixed Mindset?

In the social science discipline of psychology, a fixed mindset is referred to as the belief that change cannot and does not occur in the brain; the level of a person's intelligence cannot change. In other words, you either have a high level of intelligence, or you do not.

What Is a Growth Mindset?

By contrast, the concept of a growth mindset entertains the option that intelligence can in fact change, not only by learning new things, but also by the various experiences a person has over a lifetime. A growth mindset thrives on challenges and does not see failure as fatal, but rather as an opportunity to see the world and life from a new perspective.

Importance of These Two Mindsets

Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, has done groundbreaking research in this area. In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck writes that we develop these mindsets at a very early age. The development of either a fixed mindset or growth mindset influences to a great extent how we behave, the quality of our relationships, and even our very happiness over a lifetime.

According to Dweck, the view a person adopts profoundly affects the way they lead their life. It can determine whether they become the person they want to be and whether they accomplish the things that they value. In effect, personal beliefs have the power to transform a person's psychology and, as a result, their life.

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