Much of your achievement depends on making sure that you have the right mindset for success. Having a growth mindset vs fixed mindset has become a popular way for educators, politicians, and entrepreneurs to enhance self-development. The origins of fixed and growth mindset theory are based on the work by Carol Dweck who has written two well-known books on the subject:

  • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
  • Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential

In both of the books, Dweck outlines the theory that made her work famous. In a nutshell, she describes a continuum of ‘mindsets’ that range from having a fixed mindset vs growth mindset. According to Dweck, where you sit along this spectrum will greatly impact your chances for success, as well as your ability to receive approval, criticism and to face failure or take risks.

As an idea, the ancient concept of nature versus nurture is not dissimilar to understanding the difference between growth mindset and fixed mindset. Both package a scientific theory and practice that puts success at its goal.

Read our reasons for building a mindset for success.

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The Value of Understanding Growth Mindset Vs Fixed Mindset

If you want to understand the difference between growth mindset and fixed mindset, then there is value in understanding Dweck’s work.

She defines mindset as a way of processing the self and then regulating the self. Her works provide us with the tools to evaluate attitudes and analyse the ideas that define our relationship to ourselves and help us to analyse our actions.

There is no doubt that Dweck’s work on fixed and growth mindset has provided huge sectors of the modern population with greater insights into themselves through helping them to think differently about talent, ability, learning, effort, and the many ways in which goals can be achieved.

In this article, we will look at Dweck’s theory regarding the difference between growth mindset and fixed mindset.

Read our article for a more in-depth definition for growth mindset vs fixed mindset.

Let’s get started!

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Defining Fixed and Growth Mindset 

According to Dweck, the primary difference between growth mindset and fixed mindset is that each believes in differing origins when it comes to intelligence.

Her theory claims that people with a fixed mindset believe that ability and intelligence are innate and immovable. This belief system drives, whether acknowledged or implicit then guides most of their behaviour.

On the other hand, a mindset for success or growth mindset is held by individuals who believe that ability and intelligence can be continually developed throughout life. This is how Dweck’s theory is easily comparable to the nature versus nurture concept above.

It’s not too difficult to conclude how a fixed mindset vs growth mindset translates into everyday situations like accepting criticism, facing setbacks, and developing new skills.

Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their level of ability is unchangeable and that is set in stone. As a result, they are far less able to relish the process of personal development and growth. On the other hand, a growth mindset typically results in a mental attitude that is able to persevere through difficulties and strives to attain new skills. This is also why it is also called a mindset for success.

Keep reading to find out more about the difference between growth mindset and fixed mindset.

The Growth Mindset in the Education System

To understand the differences between fixed and growth mindset, it is worth paying attention to how Dweck reached the conclusions for her compelling theory. Even though her ideas are currently widely accepted, her initial studies originated through a number of studies concerning children around 20 years ago.

During the studies, aimed at finding the difference between fixed and growth mindset, all groups of children were asked to take a test. Upon completion, every child was told that they had done very well.

However, when returning the results, researchers told different things to the different groups of children. Some were congratulated for intelligence, while others were congratulated for effort.

After the study, the children were carefully monitored for both their general attitude and their academic achievements. It was found that the ones who were praised for effort were more likely to continue to excel than the children whose intelligence had been congratulated. The study showed that those whose innate ability had been praised, rather than their determination and effort, were more likely to present with a fear of failure in the future.

The study revealed evidence that a growth mindset, which valued effort over inherent ability, equals a mindset for success.

Find out how to cultivate a growth mindset vs fixed mindset.

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The Impact of Growth Mindset on Education Today 

Today, fixed mindset vs growth mindset studies have captured the imagination of the education system.

All over the world, the impulse to praise intelligence has been replaced with language that congratulates effort. This continues to yield learners who try harder and believe that success is possible through perseverance rather than just biology.

It’s also worth noting that the idea that praise can instigate change has invited criticism whereas the notion that intelligence can be developed continues to gain traction.

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Fixed Mindset Vs Growth Mindset Examples 

One way to understand growth mindset vs fixed mindset is to look at examples that occur in everyday life.

So far we know that both are created due to one’s belief in the origin of intelligence, but what is the effect of this? To be labelled a ‘mindset’ the theory needs to be a bit more than just a belief in inherent ability.

And that is why it is so powerful. A mindset is something that can infuse all aspects of life including our attitudes and the way that the brain works.

Here are a few helpful examples regarding how fixed and growth mindsets differ.

Learning New Things

A fundamental aspect of a fixed mindset is that when it comes to new learnings, individuals do not necessarily have the motivation, will, or self-determination to achieve them. As the term suggests, fixed mindsets say that intelligence is limited and that further education is more or less wasted.

Instead of learning new things, fixed mindset individuals aim to reveal their intelligence to feel more confident. On the other hand, growth mindset individuals relish opportunities to continually learn as they recognise that intelligence can be gained.

Encountering Challenges

Another feature of the fixed mindset is its dislike to anything that is challenging. During the course of learning, any test or difficulty will throw the fixed mindset individual off course – sadly, this means that they are far more likely to give up sooner than the person with a growth mindset.

Simply put, growth mindset individuals view challenges as an opportunity to grow and better themselves through the learning of new skills. In short, perseverance is the hallmark of this type of individual.

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You'll never learn an instrument if you don't believe that you can.

Accepting Criticism and Advice

Another trait that can be attributed to people with fixed mindsets is their inability to graciously receive criticism or advice. This is often seen as a personal attack that wounds pride and their abilities. Unfortunately, offence to the core of their very being is not uncommon.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, growth mindset individuals are able to see the value in criticism and in each and every piece of advice (whether they take it or not).

In short, if fixed mindset people want the world to know how clever they are, growth mindset folks are dedicated to continually pursuing intelligence. In addition, all advice and criticism push them to try and further develop themselves.   criticism keeps pushing them forward.

Accepting Other People’s Success

It’s only human to sometimes feel slightly envious, intimidated, or resentful of other people’s success.  For those with a fixed mindset, this can be due to a deep desire to be recognised as intelligent as they believe that this is the only ingredient that will help them to achieve anything.

Conversely, growth mindset individuals find inspiration through the success and achievement of others. They view the success of others as something that is attainable through enough effort of their own.

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Changing the World

In conclusion, it all comes down to the fundamental differences in outlook regarding the nature of the world. From here, the major differences between fixed and growth mindsets begin to take on larger proportions.

A fixed mindset will ensure a fundamentally finite vision of the world and self that says that the traits with which you are born are not able to change and neither can anything else.

A growth mindset thrives on the belief that everything and anything can develop and that it should.

For further resources on the topics of growth mindset theory, be sure to check out this article.

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Niki

Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.