4Many conversations about mindset focus on the malleability of intellectual abilities. They usually focus on questions such as, can anyone become more intelligent, and can anyone become better at math? That is understandable because the majority of the research studies which have been done focus on the effects of mindsets with respect to intellectual abilities. But mindsets are relevant to other domains, too. Here are a few examples (by the way, this list is not exhaustive): 

  1. Personality: frequently, one can hear people say things like, “I am an impatient person, that’s just the way I am”, or “John is a typical introvert”,  or “that type of people is just …”. The question is, can personality traits be changed? While it is true that genetics and epigenetics probably play a role in in all our traits, this does not imply that these traits are therefore not malleable. Recently, there has been more attention for the role of mindsets in relation to personality development. It is probably not true that we can change all our personality characteristics drastically, and it is also probably not true that changing one’s personality can always be done easily. But what appears to be true is that personality is more malleable than we once thought. Believing that change is possible is a prerequisite for taking steps to make change possible. Through focused efforts and effective interventions we can change more about our characteristics than we may have thought possible.
  2. Well-being: Carol Dweck and her colleagues found that the more fixed people’s mindsets were, the more likely they were to remember negative events and the more helpless they felt when negative events happened and the more depressed they reported to be. In another series of studies they investigated the effect of the types of goals students had. Typically people with fixed mindsets tend to focus on validation goals (trying to get other people to acknowledge they are good) while growth mindset is associated with growth goals (trying to learn, make progress). The more students with validation goals were depressed the less they tended to engage in problem solving when negative things happened. For students with growth goals the reverse was the case. The more depressed they were the more the engaged in problem solving when negative things happened.
  3. Judgment: In two studies Gervey, Chiu, Hong, and Dweck (1999) showed how mindsets may affect the behavior of jurors in a court of law. They demonstrated that participants with a fixed mindset were more likely to convict a man of murder based on superficial aspects such as the cloths a suspect wore (business suit or leather jacket with chains) or the place the suspect was seen (library of adult book store) and also even to ignore exonerating evidence.
  4. Management effectiveness: Research by Heslin & Vandewalle (2008) showed that a mindset intervention (a workshop) helped managers to let go of their fixed mindset which made them more effective as managers. They could assess employees performance more accurately and they could coach them more effectively. An other study by Heslin & Vandewalle (2009) showed that employees found appraisal conversations with managers with a growth mindset more fair than appraisal conversations with managers with a fixed mindset.
  5. Conflict resolution: Recent research has shown that mindsets are relevant for preventing and resolving conflicts between people. By changing mindsets, people become less inclined to take revenge and to behave aggressively and more inclined to negotiate and to compromise.

Do you know more fields in which mindsets are important? Please let me know.

 

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