Mindset: The New Psychology of Success


I’ve actually read a couple learning psychology books this summer.  A lot of them seem to summarize the same experiments in other books I’ve already discussed here so I did not write about them.  I started to read Mindset by Carol Dweck when it was recommended at our College kick off meeting for the fall semester.

Mindset argues that if you view your skill sets as malleable you can learn new things and get better.  Dweck calls this a Growth Mindset.  A Fixed Mindset in constrast Dweck asserts belongs to someone who feels abilities are largely set at a young age.  I guess I don’t see anything controversial here.  If you convince someone they can improve and get better at something they just might do it.  If they don’t believe they can improve they probably won’t put forth the effort. 

I started skimming in Chapter 3 because a lot of the book seems mostly based on anecdotes instead of numerical research.  Included in these anecdotes are letters written by students praising Dweck.  While anecdotes are valuable I know from other readings that personal experience biases us. 

I quit reading in Chapter 5 when the author gave the result of one baseball series (Red Sox coming back on the Yankees in 2004) as an example of the winning team showing character.  Really, winning 4 games in a row in a baseball playoff series between two good teams will happen around 1/16 of the time.  This result probably had far less to do with charachter and far more to do with pitching match ups and a few lucky bounces.

Mindset certainly gives one something to think about if you strongly feel abilities are set at birth.  Plenty of anecdotes exist to show that work can trump ability.  I just did not not enjoy the point of view of the book.  (Maybe I have a Fixed Mindset  🙂  Others may enjoy the anecdotes as a way to make the point and make the book more readable.

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