Growth Mindset

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What is Growth Mindset

Professor Carol Dweck from Stanford University has researched into the field of mindset psychology  and found that school students with growth mindsets did better than students with fixed mindsets.

Growth mindset is defined as a belief that intelligence can grow and change. Students with growth mindsets are likely to put in more effort to learn as they see setbacks as a necessary part of learning. Hence they are more likely to embrace challengers and bounce back faster after a failure.  For instance, growth-minded individuals perceive task setbacks as a necessary part of the learning process and they “bounce back” by increasing their motivational effort. Learners with growth mindset tend to embrace lifelong learning and the joy of incremental personal growth. In addition, they do not see their intelligence or personality as fixed traits. They will mobilize their learning resources without being defeated by the threat of failure.


Try this quiz to see if you have the growth mindset for success:

Have you done the quiz? Now total up all those answers which you marked as ‘True’ and those answers which you marked as ‘False’. If you’ve got more ‘True’ answers, chances are you are more of a fixed mindset person. If you have more ‘False’ answers then you are likely to have more of a Growth Mindset person.



Here are the traits of a growth mindset student:

Fixed mindset students do not like challengers as it makes them feel vulnerable. They tend to attribute their failure to the lack of intelligence and their weaknesses. Hence failure is seen as exposing their flaws. They tend to have negative labels on situation and people. E.g, Girls are bad at Maths.  They attach value and judgement on performance. E.g, if I fail it means I am not valuable as a person.


What does the Brain say about Growth Mindset

Recent Studies on the brain using electroencephalogram (EEG) shows this about Growth Mindset people.  EEG is a test that detects electrical activity in your brain.


Hence Growth Mindset students are able to learn more as they are open to receiving corrective feedback. They are intrinsically motivated (self-motivated) and do not need external reward to drive them. In the face of setbacks they are more resilient and able to face obstacles and challengers on their own.

But hey, don’t beat yourself up right now, Prof Dweck did say that we all have both fixed and growth mindset depending on the situation and context. Remember, it takes time to develop a growth mindset. Here’s how:


How to have a Growth Mindset

Growth mindset is about learning. Evaluating every piece of information. Solving problems and making improvements

  • Learn about your brain.

Know how the brain works. More importantly, understand how your brain works. How do you learn best, how              much sleep you need, when are you most alert and productive.


  • We all have fixed mindsets so be open to change.

Change can be hard. Most people hold on to a fixed mindset because at some point of time that mindset worked for them. It provided the self-esteem and identity that they needed. But that mindset may not always work

Why people won’t change.

– Some people want others to change but will not change themselves.

– Some people live in denial that anything is wrong and therefore do not need to change.

– Some have a fear of failure because they think that failure defines who they are.

Change has to be gradual, old unhelpful mindsets can be replaced by new mindsets when we keep thinking in a new way.


  • Understand what triggers your fixed mindset. E.g

– When you are challenged to do something new.

– When you face a dead end in a project.

– When you experience loss or failure.

– When someone is better than you.

  • Set your goal.


  • In the face of failure, stop licking your own wounds. Focus instead on your goal.


  • Have a plan.

– Write out a weekly or daily schedule of what you need to do to make those little steps to achieve your goal.


  • Find strategies that works.


  • Press on.

– Be honest about how you feel about the failure but do what you need to do to achieve your goal


  • Get help.

– Get feedback and help from people with relevant experience and are knowledgeable.


  • Don’t beat yourself when you slip-up. Learn from the experience and rework your plans and strategies.


Enjoy growing your brain!




Dweck, C. (2017), Mindset, Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential. Robinson

Rhew. E, Piro.J,  Goolkasian. P, Cosentino. P,  & Palikara. P, (2018). The effects of a growth mindset on self-efficacy and motivation, Cogent Education, 5:1, 1-16,DOI: 10.1080/2331186X.2018.1492337.

Ng B. (2018). The Neuroscience of Growth Mindset and Intrinsic Motivation. Brain sciences, 8(2), 20. doi:10.3390/brainsci8020020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5836039/

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