Mindset has been dubbed a revolution in psychology since it has made a profound impact on education, government, and business. In an article for BuzzFeed, Tim Chivers highlighted the prominence of growth mindset in organizations by pointing out the hiring practices of both NASA and Google, which factor in a growth mindset, as well as a recommendation by the British government to hire for growth mindsets. He also cited a Harvard Business Review article titled, How Companies Can Profit from a “Growth Mindset,” and noted the endorsement of Dweck’s book by Bill Gates. It is safe to say that mindset theory has caught the attention of many.
The mindset craze is almost entirely a product of Carol Dweck’s research and promotion of the theory. Dweck and her proponents claim that individuals with a growth mindset believe that their characteristics and abilities can be changed with effort, and over time, these people are more likely to adopt learning goals, choose challenging tasks, and employ adaptive strategies to improve their abilities.3 Those with a fixed mindset, however, are more likely to adopt performance goals and prioritize positive assessment over learning.4,5
These differences in behavior can have considerable ramifications on both an individual and systemic level, as they may directly impact the decision-making process for a variety of stakeholders within an organization. In their review on growth mindset for human resource development, Soo Jeoung Han and Vicki Stieha, of Boise State University, cite studies that have identified growth mindset as a factor in enhancing workplace engagement, employee productivity, mentoring, leadership, openness to feedback, and creativity within organizations.6
Although mindsets tend to lack an association with cognitive ability, a swath of literature has explored the effects of mindset on outcomes, particularly within education. As much of Dweck’s research has suggested, individuals with a growth mindset are more likely to have higher grades, which has led to the implementation of mindset training in schools across the world under the aim of increasing growth mindsets among students. Interestingly, however, one review on the relationship between implicit theories in regard to intelligence and academic achievement found that the relationship becomes more nuanced when considering cultural differences.7 The association between growth mindset and achievement was positive in Eastern populations, while Europe exhibited a positive relationship between fixed mindset and achievement. The authors of the review posit that these cultural differences may stem from tendencies in Eastern, collectivist cultures, to encourage students to value the learning process over academic achievement, whereas Western, individualist cultures may place greater value on positive assessment, prioritizing individual outcomes.