mindset ageImplicitly, many people still assume that learning and developing is primarily something  for when we are young and not so much for when we are adults, let alone for the elderly. In line with this assumption is the belief that the theory of mindset is mainly – perhaps even exclusively – relevant for children and adolescents. If this were true, knowledge about mindset would mainly be useful for education and parenthood. And while it is indeed very useful for these domains it is not true that mindsets are not relevant for adults and for old people. Mindset play an important role throughout our lives. 


An example of this: Peter Heslin and his colleagues (2006) studied the effects of fixed and growth mindsets in managers. They trained managers in the growth mindset and found that the growth mindset made them more effects in their work in the following ways:

  1. They became more open for feedback and criticism from their employees.
  2. They became more effective in solving difficult problems by putting in more effort and by searching for more effective approaches.
  3. They started to pay more attention to their employees’ growth and they recognized their growth earlier.
  4. They gave them more positive feedback which is motivating.
  5. They started to see the usefulness of coaching and guiding employees more and became more effective in coaching and managing their employees.

In a recent study, we found that employees with a growth mindset are more engagement in their work. Soon, I hope to be able to write more about this.


What about old people? Is it relevant for old people whether they have a fixed or a growth mindset? Yes, indeed. While it is undeniably true that some functions will start to decline from a certain age some other functions may get stronger well into old age. For instance, as we age, most of us get better at emotion regulation and we tend to get a more positive and optimistic outlook on life. Also it appears that we become better at pattern recognition and at making better judgments due to our tacit knowledge (more about this).


Let’s get accustomed to the idea that we can keep on learning forever and that this learning will be beneficial for us. A growth mindset can support this process of lifelong learning.

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