Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Carol Dweck's Attitude - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Carol Dweck argues that people who believe that you achieve success through hard work (incremental) rather than through raw talent (fixed) perform better and achieve more. This works especially well for children, but in the real world things tend to be much more complicated:
The answer turned out to be: It depends. The Michigan studies divided the incremental theorists (that is, the students who implicitly believed that intelligence is malleable) into two groups: Those whose sense of self-worth was tied to academic performance and those who didn't care so much about school. The latter group—those whose egos were not deeply invested in schoolwork—behaved as Dweck would have predicted. But among students whose self-worth was tied to academic performance, incremental theorists behaved similarly to students with "fixed" beliefs about intelligence. They avoided practicing, and they "self-handicapped."
Perhaps because academic performance is a fixed category itself. To be truly incremental you have to ignore goal-orientation and focus on the task at hand for its own sake. You have to be zen, be a yogi.