While there are many definitions for what constitutes a mindset, scholars agree it is a set of core beliefs about ourselves and the world that develops over time and helps us organize and make sense of our experiences. When a mindset becomes a habit, it can define—and often limit–how we perceive ourselves and impact how we handle new or stressful situations.
While these cognitive habits frame our view of ourselves, research shows that we have the power to become sufficiently self-aware to challenge those beliefs using meta-cognition and other tools used in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).
Psychologist Carol Dweck’s groundbreaking research has shown that people tend have either what she calls a fixed or a growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe we are born with natural skills and intellectual abilities—and that we cannot do much to change them. In contrast, people with a growth mindset see skills and abilities as able to be developed, provided we commit ourselves to the challenges of learning: being persistent, taking risks, and assimilating feedback.
Scholars have identified several mindsets that reflect our beliefs and impact learning, including impostor phenomenon and others. Learn more about the benefits of cultivating a growth mindset.
Klein, Gary. “Mindsets: What They Are and Why They Matter.” Psychology Today. Posted May 1, 2016. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/seeing-what-others-dont/201605/mindsets
- “The Meaning of Mindset.” Ed Batista. Posted January 11, 2012. https://www.edbatista.com/2012/01/the-meaning-of-mindset.html
- “Setbacks, Mindset and the Fundamental Attribution Error.” Ed Batista. Posted January 10, 2012. https://www.edbatista.com/2012/01/setbacks-mindset-attribution-error.html
Yeager, David Scott, and Carol S. Dweck. “Mindsets That Promote Resilience: When Students Believe That Personal Characteristics Can Be Developed.” Educational Psychologist 47, no. 4 (2012): 302–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.2012.722805