Carol S. Dweck's research while affiliated with Stanford University and other places

Publications (198)

Article
Children begin interacting less across racial lines around middle childhood, but it remains unclear why. We examine the novel possibility that, at that time, children's prejudice theories—their understanding of prejudice as a fixed or malleable attribute—begin to influence their desire for interracial affiliation. We devise immersive behavioral exp...
Article
A revised view of the amygdala, its relationship with the prefrontal cortex (PFC), and its role in intelligent human decision-making is proposed. Based on recent findings, we present a framework in which the amygdala plays a central role in the value computations that determine which goals are worth pursuing, while the PFC plays a central role in g...
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A growth-mindset intervention teaches the belief that intellectual abilities can be developed. Where does the intervention work best? Prior research examined school-level moderators using data from the National Study of Learning Mindsets (NSLM), which delivered a short growth-mindset intervention during the first year of high school. In the present...
Preprint
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The Global Mindset Initiative aims to develop, test, and launch a program to help teachers create a growth mindset culture for their students. A growth mindset is the belief that abilities can be developed, and research shows that students’ growth mindsets can predict higher achievement, well-being, and academic equity in many nations. Research als...
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Seminal work by Knobe, Prasada, and Newman (2013) distinguished a set of concepts, which they named "dual-character concepts." Unlike traditional concepts, they require two distinct criteria for determining category membership. For example, the prototypical dual-character concept "artist" has both a concrete dimension of artistic skills, and an abs...
Chapter
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Beliefs play a central role in human development. For instance, a growth mindset--a belief about the malleability of intelligence--can shape how adolescents interpret and respond to academic difficulties and how they subsequently navigate the educational system. But do usually-adaptive beliefs have the same effects for adolescents regardless of the...
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Values‐affirmation interventions have the potential to improve students’ experience and achievement in school. Researchers have proposed that these benefits are greatest when affirmation exercises are delivered by teachers (versus researchers). The current research provides an experimental test of whether describing affirmation activities as provid...
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The growth mindset is the belief that intellectual ability can be developed. This article seeks to answer recent questions about growth mindset, such as: Does a growth mindset predict student outcomes? Do growth mindset interventions work, and work reliably? Are the effect sizes meaningful enough to merit attention? And can teachers successfully in...
Preprint
Does holding a growth mindset prevent people from experiencing potentially negative or maladaptive thoughts and feelings following academic setbacks? Not necessarily: In our Hungarian sample, a culture high in negative affect, three-fourths of people who endorsed a growth mindset at a maximum level nonetheless reported at least sometimes being judg...
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Many attractive jobs in today’s world require people to take on new challenges and figure out how to master them. As with any challenging goal, this involves systematic strategy use. Here we ask: Why are some people more likely to take a strategic stance toward their goals, and can this tendency be cultivated? To address these questions, we introdu...
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Here we evaluate the potential for growth mindset interventions (which teach students that intellectual abilities can be developed) to inspire adolescents to be “learners”—that is, to seek out challenging learning experiences. In a previous analysis, the U.S. National Study of Learning Mindsets (NSLM) showed that a growth mindset could improve the...
Chapter
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Why do people do what they do? The field of motivation offers many different answers to this question, and in this chapter, we integrate a number of these answers by offering a novel perspective that views motivational processes as emerging from distributed yet highly interactive valuation systems that guide behavior. Each valuation system consists...
Article
Children's tendency to delay gratification predicts important life outcomes, yet little is known about how to enhance delay of gratification other than by teaching task‐specific strategies. The present research investigated the effect of exposing children to a model who experiences the exertion of willpower as energizing. In two experiments, 86 4‐5...
Article
Three studies examine how organizational mindset —whether a company is perceived to view talent as fixed or malleable—functions as a core belief that predicts organizational culture and employees’ trust and commitment. In Study 1, Fortune 500 company mission statements were coded for mindset language and paired with Glassdoor culture data. Workers...
Preprint
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In recent years the field has improved the standards for replicators to follow to help ensure that a replication attempt, whether it succeeds or fails, will be informative. When these standards are not followed, false claims can result and opportunities to learn are missed, which could undermine the larger scientific enterprise and hinder the accum...
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A global priority for the behavioural sciences is to develop cost-effective, scalable interventions that could improve the academic outcomes of adolescents at a population level, but no such interventions have so far been evaluated in a population-generalizable sample. Here we show that a short (less than one hour), online growth mindset interventi...
Article
We investigated whether a growth mindset intervention could be leveraged to promote performance and interest in computer science, through what mechanisms it might do so, and whether effects were stronger for women than for men. In particular, we explored whether the growth mindset intervention improved academic performance and career interest by in...
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A growth mindset is the belief that human capacities are not fixed but can be developed over time, and mindset research examines the power of such beliefs to influence human behavior. This article offers two personal perspectives on mindset research across two eras. Given recent changes in the field, the authors represent different generations of r...
Article
People are often told to find their passion, as though passions and interests are preformed and must simply be discovered. This idea, however, has hidden motivational implications. Five studies examined implicit theories of interest—the idea that personal interests are relatively fixed (fixed theory) or developed (growth theory). Whether assessed o...
Article
Organizations are increasingly concerned with fostering successful diversity. Toward this end, diversity research has focused on trying to reduce prejudice and biased behavior. But what happens when prejudice in the workplace inevitably occurs? Research also needs to focus on whether recovery and repair of social relations after expressions of prej...
Article
Fostering perceptions of group malleability (teaching people that groups are capable of change and improvement) has been shown to lead to short-term improvements in intergroup attitudes and willingness to make concessions in intractable conflicts. The present study, a field intervention involving 508 Israelis from three locations in Israel, replica...
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Individuals’ theories about emotions—the beliefs about the nature of emotions and the ability to influence them—have been linked to well-being. However, their causal role is not clear. To address this issue, we delivered a randomized controlled intervention to 1,645 middle school students that targeted their theories of emotion through interactive...
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In a previous study, parent–child praise was observed in natural interactions at home when children were 1, 2, and 3 years of age. Children who received a relatively high proportion of process praise (e.g., praise for effort and strategies) showed stronger incremental motivational frameworks, including a belief that intelligence can be developed an...
Article
How do people make sense of the emotions, sensations, and cognitive abilities that make up mental life? Pioneering work on the dimensions of mind perception has been interpreted as evidence that people consider mental life to have two core components - experience (e.g., hunger, joy) and agency (e.g., planning, self-control) [Gray HM, et al. (2007)...
Article
Drawing on both classic and current approaches, I propose a theory that integrates motivation, personality, and development within one framework, using a common set of principles and mechanisms. The theory begins by specifying basic needs and by suggesting how, as people pursue need-fulfilling goals, they build mental representations of their exper...
Article
Children's mindsets about intelligence (as a quality they can grow vs. a trait they cannot change) robustly influence their motivation and achievement. How do adults foster "growth mindsets" in children? One might assume that adults act in ways that communicate their own mindsets to children. However, new research shows that many parents and teache...
Article
In two samples (N = 247, N = 291), we examined the link between beliefs and messages about the changeable (incremental theory) vs. fixed (entity theory) nature of weight, attributions for weight, and body shame. We recruited participants using online sampling, employing a correlational design in Study 1 and an experimental design in Study 2. Across...
Article
In this piece, I first celebrate the growing contribution of psychology to the understanding and solution of pressing social issues. Then, despite these exciting developments, I worry about whether we have created a field that our students want to spend their lives in, and I suggest concerns that might fruitfully be addressed. Finally, I worry abou...
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This paper provides a developmental science-based perspective on two related issues: (1) why traditional preventative school-based interventions work reasonably well for children, but less so for middle adolescents, and (2) why some alternative intervention approaches show promise for middle adolescents. The authors propose the hypothesis that trad...
Article
Does every child have a fundamental right to receive a high-quality education? We propose that people’s beliefs about whether “nearly everyone” or “only some people” have high intellectual potential drive their positions on education. Three studies found that the more people believed that nearly everyone has high potential, the more they viewed edu...
Article
My career has been devoted to understanding the nature, workings, and development of children's motivation. Starting with research on motivation in animals, I went on to study the motivational impact of children's attributions, achievement goals, and mindsets about their abilities. I have explored how socialization practices affect these mindsets,...
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There are many promising psychological interventions on the horizon, but there is no clear methodology for preparing them to be scaled up. Drawing on design thinking, the present research formalizes a methodology for redesigning and tailoring initial interventions. We test the methodology using the case of fixed versus growth mindsets during the tr...
Article
For decades, increasing intergroup contact has been the preferred method for improving cooperation between groups. However, even proponents of this approach acknowledge that intergroup contact may not be effective in the context of intractable conflicts. One question is whether anything can be done to increase the impact of intergroup contact on co...
Article
Two largely separate bodies of empirical research have shown that academic achievement is influenced by structural factors, such as socioeconomic background, and psychological factors, such as students' beliefs about their abilities. In this research, we use a nationwide sample of high school students from Chile to investigate how these factors int...
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Previous experiments have shown that college students benefit when they understand that challenges in the transition to college are common and improvable and, thus, that early struggles need not portend a permanent lack of belonging or potential. Could such an approach-called a lay theory intervention-be effective before college matriculation? Coul...
Conference Paper
Student retention is a central challenge in systems for learning at scale. It has been argued that educational video games could improve student retention by providing engaging experiences and informing the design of other online learning environments. However, educational games are not uniformly effective. Our recent research shows that player ret...
Article
Children's intelligence mind-sets (i.e., their beliefs about whether intelligence is fixed or malleable) robustly influence their motivation and learning. Yet, surprisingly, research has not linked parents' intelligence mind-sets to their children's. We tested the hypothesis that a different belief of parents-their failure mind-sets-may be more vis...
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Motivation takes place at every point in the learning and achievement process. Many factors drive students’ motivation, ranging from external rewards or schools’ environments to students’ personal goals and interests. Authors in this special issue utilize the research findings that students’ beliefs about themselves, their environment, and what it...
Article
The United States must improve its students' educational achievement. Race, gender, and social class gaps persist, and, overall, U.S. students rank poorly among peers globally. Scientific research shows that students' psychology-their "academic mindsets"-have a critical role in educational achievement. Yet policymakers have not taken full advantage...
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Knowing what we don't yet know is critical for learning. Nonetheless, people typically overestimate their prowess—but is this true of everyone? Three studies examined who shows overconfidence and why. Study 1 demonstrated that participants with an entity (fixed) theory of intelligence, those known to avoid negative information, showed significantly...
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Previous research highlights how adept people are at emotional recovery after rejection, but less research has examined factors that can prevent full recovery. In five studies, we investigate how changing one's self-definition in response to rejection causes more lasting damage. We demonstrate that people who endorse an entity theory of personality...
Article
Mindsets—or implicit theories—are the beliefs people have about the nature of human characteristics. This article applies mindset theory and research to the field of consumer behavior. Specifically, we suggest how a fixed or growth mindset may shape consumer product preferences, acceptance of brand extensions, trust recovery following product failu...
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The efficacy of academic-mind-set interventions has been demonstrated by small-scale, proof-of-concept interventions, generally delivered in person in one school at a time. Whether this approach could be a practical way to raise school achievement on a large scale remains unknown. We therefore delivered brief growth-mind-set and sense-of-purpose in...
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Laboratory research shows that when people believe that willpower is an abundant (rather than highly limited) resource they exhibit better self-control after demanding tasks. However, some have questioned whether this "nonlimited" theory leads to squandering of resources and worse outcomes in everyday life when demands on self-regulation are high....
Article
Video games have great potential to motivate students in environments for learning at scale. However, little is known about how to design in-game incentive structures to maximize learning and engagement. In this work, we expand on our previous research that introduced a new "brain points" incentive structure designed to promote the growth mindset,...
Article
A very simple reciprocal activity elicited high degrees of altruism in 1- and 2-y-old children, whereas friendly but nonreciprocal activity yielded little subsequent altruism. In a second study, reciprocity with one adult led 1- and 2-y-olds to provide help to a new person. These results question the current dominant claim that social experiences c...
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Despite strong support for the efficacy of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for social anxiety disorder (SAD), little is known about mechanisms of change in treatment. Within the context of a randomized controlled trial of CBT, this study examined patients' beliefs about the fixed versus malleable nature of anxiety-their 'implicit theories'-as a...
Article
After committing an offense, transgressors can optimize their chances of reconciling with the victim by accepting responsibility. However, transgressors may be motivated to avoid admitting fault because it can feel threatening to accept blame for harmful behavior. Who, then, is likely to accept responsibility for a transgression? We examined how im...
Article
Empathy is often thought to occur automatically. Yet, empathy frequently breaks down when it is difficult or distressing to relate to people in need, suggesting that empathy is often not felt reflexively. Indeed, the United States as a whole is said to be displaying an empathy deficit. When and why does empathy break down, and what predicts whether...
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People often exert willpower to choose a more valuable delayed reward over a less valuable immediate reward, but using willpower is taxing and frequently fails. In this research, we demonstrate the ability to enhance self-control (i.e., forgoing smaller immediate rewards in favor of larger delayed rewards) without exerting additional willpower. Usi...
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Recent years have seen a rejuvenation of interest in studies of motivation-cognition interactions arising from many different areas of psychology and neuroscience. The present issue of Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience provides a sampling of some of the latest research from a number of these different areas. In this introductory artic...
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The belief that personality is fixed (an entity theory of personality) can give rise to negative reactions to social adversities. Three studies showed that when social adversity is common-at the transition to high school-an entity theory can affect overall stress, health, and achievement. Study 1 showed that an entity theory of personality, measure...
Article
There is great interest in leveraging video games to improve student engagement and motivation. However, educational games are not uniformly effective, and little is known about how in-game rewards affect children's learning-related behavior. In this work, we argue that educational games can be improved by fundamentally changing their incentive str...
Article
Adolescents face many academic and emotional challenges in middle school, but notable differences are evident in how well they adapt. What predicts adolescents' academic and emotional outcomes during this period? One important factor might be adolescents' implicit theories about whether intelligence and emotions can change. The current study examin...
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Evaluating others is a fundamental feature of human social interaction-we like those who help more than those who hinder. In the present research, we examined social evaluation of those who not only intentionally performed good and bad actions but also those to whom good things have happened (the lucky) and those to whom bad things have happened (t...
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Past research found that the ingestion of glucose can enhance self-control. It has been widely assumed that basic physiological processes underlie this effect. We hypothesized that the effect of glucose also depends on people's theories about willpower. Three experiments, both measuring (experiment 1) and manipulating (experiments 2 and 3) theories...
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Attributing the negative behavior of an adversary to underlying dispositions inflames negative attitudes. In two studies, by manipulating both implicit theories and attributions, we show that the negative impact of dispositional attributions can be reduced. Both studies showed that inducing an incremental theory (“traits are malleable”) in Israelis...
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Past research has shown that hostile schemas and adverse experiences predict the hostile attributional bias. This research proposes that seemingly nonhostile beliefs (implicit theories about the malleability of personality) may also play a role in shaping it. Study 1 meta-analytically summarized 11 original tests of this hypothesis (N = 1,659), and...
Article
In laboratory studies, praising children's effort encourages them to adopt incremental motivational frameworks-they believe ability is malleable, attribute success to hard work, enjoy challenges, and generate strategies for improvement. In contrast, praising children's inherent abilities encourages them to adopt fixed-ability frameworks. Does the p...
Article
It is often assumed that improving intergroup relations is simply a matter of directly addressing prejudice. In this chapter, we show that this is not the case. Instead, we illuminate through our research how implicit theories give rise to prejudice and how they disrupt intergroup relations even in people who are low in prejudice. In particular, we...
Article
Debates about human nature often revolve around what is built in. However, the hallmark of human nature is how much of a person's identity is not built in; rather, it is humans' great capacity to adapt, change, and grow. This nature versus nurture debate matters-not only to students of human nature-but to everyone. It matters whether people believe...
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Adolescents are often resistant to interventions that reduce aggression in children. At the same time, they are developing stronger beliefs in the fixed nature of personal characteristics, particularly aggression. The present intervention addressed these beliefs. A randomized field experiment with a diverse sample of Grades 9 and 10 students (ages...
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Because challenges are ubiquitous, resilience is essential for success in school and in life. In this article we review research demonstrating the impact of students’ mindsets on their resilience in the face of academic and social challenges. We show that students who believe (or are taught) that intellectual abilities are qualities that can be dev...
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The authors test the assumption that the core of implicit motives is the desire for particular affective experiences and that motive satisfaction need not be tied to any particular domain. Using the context of romantic relationships, cross-sectional Study 1 and experimental Study 2 showed that people with a high affiliation motive were more satisfi...
Article
We identify a novel dimension of people's beliefs about intelligence: beliefs about the potential to become highly intelligent. Studies 1-3 found that in U.S. American contexts, people tend to believe that only some people have the potential to become highly intelligent. In contrast, in South Asian Indian contexts, people tend to believe that most...