In any given school, you’re never more than 6ft away from a poster about “growth mindset”. It’s the massively-popular idea that if you believe that people can change, you’ll put more effort into a task (like studying) and end up doing better at it. On the other hand, if you have a “fixed mindset” and think talent is innate and unchangeable, you won’t put in the effort and you’ll fail to reach your potential.
In this episode, Tom and Stuart talk about how the claims about the power of growth mindset have changed over the years, and explain the convoluted back-and-forth story of recent studies and reviews of the evidence. Do growth mindset interventions help kids get better grades? Is growth mindset even a thing? Take a listen to find out.
The Studies Show is sponsored by Works in Progress magazine, an online magazine full to the brim with the best writing on science, technology, and human progress. Read any of the essays in Works in Progress magazine and you’re guaranteed to come away with a new idea or a new understanding of how things work - we can’t recommend it highly enough.
Remember that you can subscribe to The Studies Show and get an email every time there’s a new episode - just enter your email address in the box below. We’d also love it if you’d consider becoming a paid subscriber and supporting the show - you can also do that below, and you’ll get access to the comments, ask-me-anything opportunities, and (soon) subscriber-only episodes:
Tom’s 2017 article on growth mindset on BuzzFeed news
Stuart’s 2022 Substack article “How Growth Mindset Shrank” (including discussion of the various Middle East Peace Process studies)
The 2019 large-scale study of growth mindset in the classroom
Useful online tool to calculate and visualise effect sizes
“Does psychology have a conflict-of-interest problem?” - Tom’s 2019 Nature News article
The first 2023 meta-analysis (the more growth mindset-sceptical one)
The second 2023 meta-analysis (the more growth mindset-supporting one)
Critique of the first 2023 meta-analysis
The Studies Show is produced by Julian Mayers at Yada Yada Productions.