Motivation and emotion/Book/2018/Growth mindset and challenge
How does a growth mindset approach challenge?
Have you ever faced difficulties with your family members, colleagues, or classmates? How did these difficulties affect your life? Do you think a challenge can improve your ability or do you think you have the innate abilities? If you answer these questions, they will help to reveal your mindset about how to deal with challenge.
By the end of this chapter you should be able to answer:
- What is a mindset?
- How does our mindset affect the way we face challenges?
- How can we improve our mindset?
This chapter starts with an overview of the concept of mindset and challenge. After that, it explains the effects of having a different mindset on the person's success. The chapter reviews the existing research and theories about mindsets their influences on a person's approach to challenges, with particular emphasis on the growth versus fixed mindset. Finally, the chapter concludes with suggestions for how people wishing to change their mindset can use these findings in real life.
What is a mindset?
A mindset is a cognitive frame of mind, information processing, or a series of self-perceptions and thoughts that humans possess (Reeve, 2018). In other words, a mindset is habitual or characteristic of mental perspective that designates how an individual will interpret and respond to the stimulator. Thus, one's mindset can be understood as a key ingredient for success.
Mindset is related to various aspects of our lives and leads individuals to have differing beliefs about reaching their goals, and the effort that is put into achieving them (Reeve, 2018). In the late 1990s, Dweck (see Figure 1) introduced the idea that the way people think about their intelligence and characteristics could be classified into growth mindset or fixed mindset (Dweck, 1999). These mindsets can have far-reaching effects on motivation and achievements throughout our lifespan.
Fixed mindset and entity theory of intelligence
Some people believe that their intellectual abilities are a fixed trait. The psychologist named this view as an "entity theory" of intelligence because intelligence is depicted as the entity that lives inside us and we cannot change it (Bandura & Dweck, 1985; Dweck & Leggett, 1988). The fixed mindset leads the individual to spend less time developing abilities because of the belief in their fixed or unchangeable nature (O'Rourke, Haimovitz, Ballweber, Dweck, & Popović, 2014). This view has many consequences. For example, the research of Dweck (2010) found that students with a fixed mindset have a feeling of being dumb when they have to work hard because they believe that if they have an ability, the success should happen naturally. Dweck, Walton, and Cohen (2014) stated that fixed mindset people believe that their intelligence is a limited entity, and they try to prove it rather than improve it. Fixed mindset people have an unfavourable view of their mistakes, challenges, and efforts as a contrary indicator of their intelligence (Dweck, Walton, & Cohen, 2014) and they may withdraw their effort quickly, blame others and lie about their scores or consider cheating (Dweck, 2010). However, challenges are a threat to the self-esteem of people with a fixed mindset. For example, a student may pass up valuable learning opportunities if they encounter difficulties or obstacles (Dweck, 2000).
Tom, a fixed minded student, had an exam. He should study hard to pass this exam, however he believed in his innate intellectual abilities and did not put all his efforts into studying. Tom failed the exam. Considering the belief that talent is an inborn ability, he thought that he is intelligent enough and a perfect student. Therefore, he concludes that something outside of his control is wrong and has influenced his given mark. Author
Growth mindset and incremental theory of intelligence
People with a growth mindset believe their intelligence, skills, and ability are malleable (Dweck, 1999) and they can cultivate them through learning and effort processes. These people also focus on the power of goals which lead to learning new skills and knowledge (Dweck, 1999). For instance, children with a growth mindset view effort as positive and challenges as opportunities to learn (Heyman & Dweck, 1998). This view is recognised as an incremental theory of intelligence. This view also has several repercussions for a person such as a student (Dweck, 2000). For example, it helps students to look for learning more. Students with this view use opportunities to learn something new. The growth mindset will also show higher levels of academic engagement and setting growth orientated goals (Dweck, 2006). Opposed to entity theory people, the incremental theory by having the easy tasks waste time rather than their self-esteem. How we use our goals to motivate ourselves will have many implications for how we go about achieving our goals, and often, whether we are successful.
Jim, a growth-mindset student, had an exam and put all his efforts into studying to get a good mark. He failed the exam. Considering his belief that ability can be developed, and a challenge is an opportunity for improving skills, Jim concluded that he should practice more. Jim decided to change the way of his studying which may lead him to be successful in the future. Author
|Fixed mindset||Growth mindset|
|Avoid challenge||Embrace challenge|
|Give up easily||Push through setbacks|
|See effort as temporary||Believe effort is important|
|Ignore feedback or criticism||Use feedback as a way to improve|
|Feel threatened by others' success||learn from others' success|
What is a challenge?
During our life, all of us have the experiences of challenge in numerous ways such as facing different views, opinion or individual goals. Challenge is a familiar topic for all human beings, however confronting a challenge differs between people and in various situation. Because challenges are ubiquitous, resilience, self-esteem, and self-concept are essential for success in life (Yeager & Dweck, 2012).
What does a challenge mean to someone with a fixed vs. growth mindset?
A fixed mindset avoids a challenge when facing the obstacle which ruins their achievements. On the other hand, the growth mindset seeks and engages challenging tasks and maintains the active fighting under defeat (Dweck, Leggett, 1988). Researchers have indicated that growth mindset has a substantial impact on motivation, reaction to challenge or failure and academic achievement (Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007). Studies have shown that people with a fixed mindset view challenging situations as “tests” of how much intelligence they have, and view effort and mistakes as indications of low ability (Heyman & Dweck, 1998). On the other hand, the studies showed that a growth mindset values challenging tasks to learn over performance, and view effort as a necessary part of the learning process (Heyman & Dweck, 1998). For example, the consequences of a longitudinal study Blackwell et al. (2007) showed that holding a growth mindset predicted improving grades over the two years of middle school while holding a fixed mindset predicted static or decreasing grades (O'Rourke, Haimovitz, Ballweber, Dweck, & Popović, 2014). In summary, mindsets can either weaken motivation or increase motivation (Dweck, 2012).
Approach and avoidance motivation
Two aspects of motivations are approach and avoidance. The foundations of approach and avoidance motivation functions are different. Elliot (1999) mentioned that in approach motivation, a growth mindset behaviour is stimulated by a positive event; in avoidance motivation, a fixed mindset behaviour is induced by a negative event.
|Entity theory||Incremental theory|
|Values of effort, help, and strategies||Lower||Higher|
|Response to challenge||Tendency to give up||Work harder and smarter|
|Changes in grades during times of adversity||Decrease or remain low||Increase|
Approach motivation or achievement goal is the target of task obligation (Maehr, 1989). Dweck (1986) and Nicholls (1989) asserted that the goal adopted is placed to create a structure for how individuals interpret, experience, and act in their achievement pursuits. Elliot and Church (1997) asserted that another perspective is avoidance motivation, in which individuals worried about failure. For example, people of growth mindsets adopt mastery goals in their endeavours to achieve (Dweck & Leggett, 1988) and people with a fixed mindset define effort as a lack of ability (Diener & Dweck, 1978). Thus, the fear of failure and setback affect people to show anxiety, and avoidance goals (Reeve, 2018) and achievement motivation theory arose to explain how people respond to standards of excellence and hence why some people show enthusiasm and approach (Reeve, 2014).
The idea of mindset derives from various theories:
Implicit theory creates a structure of attributions that occur and are essential for understanding motivation (Hong et al., 1999). Dweck et al. (1988, 1995) suggested a model that conducts the individual's endeavours before getting the result and establishes a definitive system within which attributions occur.
Have you ever thought about what influences individuals to favour performance goals over learning? Or have you ever thought about why do some individuals focus on the adequacy of their ability rather than developing their capacity? The purpose of intellectual regulation or motivation and implicit theories of intelligence are similar to each other. Fixed intelligent people have a rigid personality and they try not to change their mental ability (Dweck, 1986; Hong et al., 1999). For example, through Yeager and Dweck's (2012) research, the result showed how the viewpoint of intelligence being a fixed attribute can lead students to interpret academic challenges as a sign that they lack intelligence and might be seen as "dumb". On the other hand, people with a growth mindset believe that by putting more efforts they can develop their intellectual abilities (see Table 2).
Cognitive appraisal and coping theory
The evaluation of the process that defines why a distinct performance between a person and the environment is challenging and stressful is a cognitive appraisal (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Lazarus and Folkman (1984) believe that a cognitive appraisal specifies the new link relationship between a person with particular distinctive characteristics and an environment whose characteristics must be predicted and evaluated take place. For example, appraisals go far beyond immediate and unintentional cognitive-affective responses. Some queries of risk-taking, sufficient research duration, and finding a better solution indicate the value of appraisal, as it forms a person's event evaluations and has positive results of increased decision making or coping processes.
There are two types of cognitive appraisal: primary and secondary (Conner & Norman, 2005). The primary appraisal processes focus on the nature of the threat; it has three types of irrelevant, positive, and dangerous (e.g., challenge, threat, harm, and loss). Through the secondary appraisal processes regardless of threat or challenge, something must be done to manage the situation.
Bandura (1977, 1982) highlights the contrast between these two anticipations. He uses the two terms of outcome expectancy and efficacy expectation, referring to the individuals' self-assessment leading to specific consequences, and referring to a person's confidence that leads to complete the action required to produce the desired results successfully.
People manage the requirements of the connection between person and environment through the coping process. The transactional model of stress, appraisal, and coping (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) (see Figure 7) shows that the relationship between a person and the environment is dynamic, mutually reciprocal, and bidirectional. In this model, separate person and their environmental elements join to form new meanings via an appraisal. For example, the threat does not refer to an independent person and their environmental factors, but to the union of both in a given activity. The transactional model is involved with process and change in contrast to traditional models, which are static and structural.
Changing a fixed mindset to a growth mindset
Have you ever thought about how we can change our mindset and perspective? Is there any way to change the mindset? The reality is a malleable theory that can be taught. The evidence of this belief is when people show increased motivation to learn, and they perform better on challenging tasks. The example of a study done by Aronson, Fried, and Good (2002) with university students indicated that the students who had learned about growth mindset showed greater considering of academics, the enhanced satisfaction of their academic work, and higher grade-point averages.
In addition, people learn the self-theories from a differing appreciation they receive (Mueller & Dweck, 1998). For instance, prizes for intelligence lead people toward a fixed mindset. The results also lead them to be challenge-avoidant and vulnerable. However, when award is given for their effort or strategies, they instead take on a more growth mindset, they are eager to learn and highly resilient in the face of difficulty and challenge. Thus, self-theories represent an essential element in challenge seeking, resilience, self-regulation, and appears to result in critical real-world changes in how people perform.
- Challenge is a critical factor in our life and the way of facing to it depends on the type of your mindset.
- Growth mindset and fixed mindset are discovered by Dweck.
- Growth mindset leads to working hard and achieving improvement while the fixed mindset leads to being afraid of failure and non-realistic confidence in intelligence.
- Growth mindset can be thought and learned.
- The transactional model help us to understand how to cope with challenge.
- Carol Dweck (Wikipedia)
- Growth mindset development (Book chapter, 2018)
- Mindset (Wikipedia)
- Mindset and motivation (Book chapter, 2016)
- Transactional model of stress and coping (Book chapter, 2013)
Conner, M., & Norman, P. (2005). Predicting health behaviour: Research and practice with social cognition models. Maidenhead, England: Open University Press.
Diener, C. I., & Dweck, C. S. (1978). An analysis of learned helplessness: Continuous changes in performance, strategy, and achievement cognitions following failure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 451-462. http://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1681
Dweck, C.S. (2000). Self-theories, Their role in Motivation, Personality and Development.
Dweck, C. S. (2008). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House Digital, Inc.
Dweck, C. S. (2008). Can personality be changed? The role of beliefs in personality and change. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17, 391-394. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2008.00612.x
Dweck, C. S. (2010). Even geniuses work hard. Educational Leadership, 68(1), 16-20.
Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindsets and human nature: promoting change in the Middle East, the schoolyard, the racial divide, and willpower. American Psychologist, 67, 614-622. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0029783
Dweck, C. S. (2013). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. Psychology Press.
Dweck, C. S. (2014). Mindsets and math/science achievement.
Dweck, C. S., & Leggett, E. L. (1988). A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological Review, 95, 256-273. https://doi.org/10.1037//0033-295x.95.2.256
Dweck, C. S., Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2014). Academic Tenacity: Mindsets and Skills that Promote Long-Term Learning. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Elliot, A. J., & Church, M. A. (1997). A hierarchical model of approach and avoidance achievement motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 218-232. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.124
Elliot, A. J., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (1996). Approach and avoidance achievement goals and intrinsic motivation: A mediational analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 461-475. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1991
Heyman, G. D., & Dweck, C. S. (1998). Children's thinking about traits: Implications for judgements of the self and others. Child Development, 69, 391. https://doi.org/10.2307/1132173
Hong, Y., Chiu, C., Dweck, C. S., Lin, D. M., & Wan, W. (1999). Implicit theories, attributions, and coping: A meaning system approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 588-599. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.528
Law, W., Elliot, A. J., & Murayama, K. (2012). Perceived competence moderates the relation between performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104, 806-819. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027179
Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (2015). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York, NY: Springer.
Lazeron, N., & Van Dinteren, R. (2010). Carol Dweck. Brein@Work, 277-282. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-313-7816-6_25
Meier, L. (2015). Book review: mindset: the new psychology of success by Carol Dweck. PsycEXTRA Dataset. https://doi.org/10.1037/e524952015-005
Mindset: the new psychology of success. (2006). Choice Reviews Online, 44, 44-2397-44-2397. https://doi.org/10.5860/choice.44-2397
O'Rourke, E., Haimovitz, K., Ballweber, C., Dweck, C., & Popović, Z. (2014). Brain points: a growth mindset incentive structure boosts persistence in an educational game. Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing systems - CHI '14. https://doi.org/10.1145/2556288.2557157
Pedersen, D. M. (1965). The measurement of individual differences in perceived personality-trait relationships and their relation to certain determinants. The Journal of Social Psychology, 65, 233-258. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224545.1965.9919603
Reeve, J. (2018). Understanding motivation and emotion.
Tamir, M., John, O. P., Srivastava, S., & Gross, J. J. (2007). Implicit theories of emotion: Affective and social outcomes across a major life transition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 731-744. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2061
Weiner, B., & Kukla, A. (1970). An attributional analysis of achievement motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 15(1), 1.
Yeager, D. S., & Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindsets that promote resilience: When students believe that personal characteristics can be developed. Educational Psychologist, 47, 302-314. https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.2012.722805