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When do Mindsets Predict Interest In A Culture of Growth Vs. Genius? A Mindset Certainty Perspective

Decades of research shows that growth vs. fixed mindsets can unlock human potential. However, some research has recently questioned this, finding small to non-existent effects. Inspired by attitudes research, the current talk proposes that some growth mindsets may be stronger—and therefore more impactful—than others. Specifically, this work tests the hypothesis that mindsets held with high vs. low levels of certainty are more likely to influence outcomes. A lab experiment (N = 850) demonstrates that only mindset beliefs held with high certainty predict people’s interest in joining an organization that matches their growth vs. fixed personal mindsets. A field study replicates and extends these findings, demonstrating that personal mindset beliefs influence students’ engagement in matching growth vs. fixed classrooms only when held with certainty. These findings provide insight into why people join organizations that espouse growth vs. fixed beliefs and how metacognitions may guide these preferences. Broadly, these studies support a novel mindset strength framework that encourages researchers to identify “when,” rather than “whether,” growth mindsets predict outcomes.

Laura Wallace
University of Chicago, Booth School of Business
United States


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