Carol Dweck

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Carol S. Dweck
Carol Dweck for Innovation documentary.jpg
Carol Dweck speaking for the documentary Innovation: Where Creativity and Technology Meet in 2015
Born (1946-10-17) October 17, 1946 (age 73)
Alma materBarnard College
Yale University
Scientific career
FieldsSocial psychology, developmental psychology
InstitutionsStanford University
Columbia University
Harvard University
University of Illinois

Carol S. Dweck (born October 17, 1946) is an American psychologist. She is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University.[1] Dweck is known for her work on the mindset psychological trait. She taught at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the University of Illinois before joining the Stanford University faculty in 2004. She is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Dweck was born in New York. Her father worked in export-import and her mother in advertising. She was the only daughter and the middle sibling of three children.[3]

In her sixth grade class at P.S. 153 in Brooklyn, New York, students were seated in order of their IQ.[4] Students with the highest IQ scores could erase the blackboard, carry the flag, or take a note to the principal's office. She said in a 2015 interview, "On the one hand, I didn't believe that a score on a test was that important; on the other hand, every student wants to succeed in the framework that's established. So looking back, I think that glorification of IQ was a pivotal point of my development."[3]

She graduated from Barnard College in 1967[1] and earned a PhD in psychology from Yale University in 1972.[4]


Dweck's first job after graduating school was at the University of Illinois (1972–1981). She then became a professor in Harvard's Laboratory of Human Development (1981–1985), returning to Illinois as a full professor (1985–1989). She moved to Columbia University as William B. Ransford Professor of Psychology in 1989. From 2004 she has been Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University.[5]

Mindset work[edit]

Dweck has primary research interests in motivation,[6][7][8][9][10][11] personality, and development. She teaches courses in Personality and Social Development as well as Motivation.

Her key contribution to social psychology relates to implicit theories of intelligence, per her 2006 book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. According to Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from. Some believe their success is based on innate ability; these are said to have a "fixed" theory of intelligence (fixed mindset). Others, who believe their success is based on hard work, learning, training and doggedness are said to have a "growth" or an "incremental" theory of intelligence (growth mindset). Individuals may not necessarily be aware of their own mindset, but their mindset can still be discerned based on their behavior. It is especially evident in their reaction to failure. Fixed-mindset individuals dread failure because it is a negative statement on their basic abilities, while growth mindset individuals don't mind or fear failure as much because they realize their performance can be improved and learning comes from failure. These two mindsets play an important role in all aspects of a person's life. Dweck argues that the growth mindset will allow a person to live a less stressful and more successful life. Dweck's definition of fixed and growth mindsets from a 2012 interview:

In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.[12]

This is important because (1) individuals with a "growth" theory are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks and (2) individuals' theories of intelligence may be affected by subtle environmental cues.[citation needed] For example, children given praise such as "good job, you're very smart" are more likely to develop a fixed mindset, whereas if given compliments like "good job, you worked very hard" they are more likely to develop a growth mindset.[citation needed] In other words, it may be possible to encourage students, for example, to persist despite failure by encouraging them to think about learning in a certain way.

Goal of mindset[edit]

Dweck's research challenges the common belief that intelligent people are born smart.[citation needed] As explained by Dweck, a growth mindset is not just about effort. Perhaps the most common misconception is simply equating the growth mindset with effort. "The growth mindset was intended to help close achievement gaps, not hide them. It is about telling the truth about a student's current achievement and then, together, doing something about it, helping him or her become smarter."[13]

Practicing mindset[edit]

Dweck advises, "If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don't have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence."[14]

Dweck warns of the dangers of praising intelligence as it puts children in a fixed mindset, and they will not want to be challenged because they will not want to look stupid or make a mistake. She notes, "Praising children's intelligence harms motivation and it harms performance."[6]

Recent work[edit]

Dweck maintains a teaching presence as a psychology professor at Stanford for the 2017–18 school year, teaching developmental psychology, self theories, and independent studies.[15]

In 2017, Dweck stated "I am now developing a broad theory that puts motivation and the formation of mindsets (or beliefs) at the heart of social and personality development."[16]

Awards and honors[edit]

Dweck is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and of the National Academy of Sciences. She received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association in 2011. On September 19, 2017, the Hong Kong-based Yidan Prize Foundation named Dweck one of two inaugural laureates, to be awarded the Yidan Prize for Education Research, citing her mindset work. The prize includes receipt of approximately US$3.9 million, divided equally between a cash prize and project funding.[17][18][19][20]


Critics point to the fact that Dweck's research does not appear to be replicable—a key requirement to prove its validity. Writing in the Spectator, Toby Young points out that "Timothy Bates, a psychology professor at the University of Edinburgh, has been trying for several years to replicate Dweck's findings, each time without success, and his colleagues haven't been able to either".[21] He also comments: " claim that your performance in a cognitive task is entirely dictated by how hard you try and is nothing to do with raw candle-power flies in the face of more than 100 years of intelligence research". Dweck has responded to this criticism by saying that researchers have not accurately replicated the conditions of the study. However, Nick Brown, who co-developed the GRIM test argued: "If your effect is so fragile that it can only be reproduced [under strictly controlled conditions], then why do you think it can be reproduced by schoolteachers?" He points out that most of the research in this area has been conducted by Dweck or her collaborators.[22] Tom Chivers, writing for BuzzFeed, comments: "The findings of Dweck's key study have never been replicated in a published paper, which is noteworthy in so high-profile a work. One scientist told BuzzFeed News that his attempt to reproduce the findings has so far failed. An investigation found several small but revealing errors in the study that may require a correction".[22]

Despite these claims, the findings have been replicated at large scale in journals such as Psychological Science and Nature; however, the research teams were again led by Dweck.[23][24]

Nick Brown applied the GRIM test, a simple statistical test used to identify inconsistencies in the analysis of granular data sets, to the work by Mueller and Dweck, finding inconsistencies. Dweck acknowledged and responded to the highlighted inconsistencies, some of which turned out to be mistakes. Brown praised Dweck's "openness and willingness to address the problems" and said she had done a "thorough job of owning up to the problems" of the paper. Brown commented: "I'm still skeptical about mindset as a construct, but at least I feel confident that the main people researching it are dedicated to doing the most careful reporting of their science that they can".[25]

Other education and psychology researchers worry that 'mindset' has simply become another aspect to be assessed and graded in children. Matt O'Leary, an education lecturer at Birmingham City University, tweeted that it was "farcical" that his six-year-old daughter was being graded on her attitude towards learning. David James, professor of social sciences at Cardiff and editor of the British Journal of Sociology of Education, says "it's great to dwell on the fact that intelligence is not fundamentally genetic and unchangeable", but he believes the limitations of mindset outweigh its uses. "It individualises the failure—'they couldn't change the way they think, so that's why they failed'." James notes that a study in 2013 showed no statistically significant effect of mindset theory.[26]

In July 2019, a large randomized controlled trial of growth mindset training by the Education Endowment Foundation involving 101 schools and 5018 pupils across England found that pupils in schools receiving the intervention showed no additional progress in literacy or numeracy relative to pupils in the control group, as measured by the national Key Stage 2 tests in reading, grammar, punctuation, and spelling (GPS), and maths. [27]

Personal life[edit]

Carol is married to David Goldman, who is a national theatre director and critic and the founder and director of the National Center for New Plays at Stanford University.[28] Although she did not have children of her own, her husband has two grown children, whose children call Dweck "grandma". She notes the grandchildren have growth mindset and says, "Their parents did very well with that!"[3]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Heckhausen, J., & Dweck, C. S. (Eds.). (1998). Motivation and self-regulation across the life span. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Dweck, C. S. (1999). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality and development. Philadelphia: Psychology Press.
  • Elliot, A. J., & Dweck, C. S. (Eds.). (2005). Handbook of competence and motivation. New York: Guilford.
  • Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.
  • Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindset: How you can fulfill your potential. Constable & Robinson Limited.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Being the First: Carol Dweck '67". Barnard College. April 10, 2018. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  2. ^ "2019 APS Mentor Awards". April 2019. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c McInerney, Laura (June 25, 2015). "Carol Dweck floats like a butterfly, but her intellect stings like a bee". Schools Week. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Trei, Lisa (February 7, 2007). "New study yields instructive results on how mindset affects learning". Stanford University. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  5. ^ "Carol Dweck's Profile – Stanford Profiles". Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  6. ^ a b (April 19, 2011), "The words that could unlock your child", BBC News. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  7. ^ Mangels, J. A.; Butterfield, B.; Lamb, J.; Good, C.; Dweck, C. (2006). "Why do beliefs about intelligence influence learning success? A social cognitive neuroscience model". Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 1 (2): 75–86. doi:10.1093/scan/nsl013. PMC 1838571. PMID 17392928.
  8. ^ Job, V.; Dweck, C. S.; Walton, G. M. (2010). "Ego Depletion--Is It All in Your Head?: Implicit Theories About Willpower Affect Self-Regulation". Psychological Science. 21 (11): 1686–1693. doi:10.1177/0956797610384745. PMID 20876879. S2CID 1110530.
  9. ^ Olson, K. R.; Dunham, Y.; Dweck, C. S.; Spelke, E. S.; Banaji, M. R. (2008). "Judgments of the lucky across development and culture". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 94 (5): 757–776. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.94.5.757. ISSN 0022-3514. PMC 2745195. PMID 18444737.
  10. ^ Dweck, C. S.; Leggett, E. L. (1988). "A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality". Psychological Review. 95 (2): 256–273. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.95.2.256. ISSN 0033-295X.
  11. ^ Dweck, C. S. (1986). "Motivational processes affecting learning". American Psychologist. 41 (10): 1040–1048. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.41.10.1040. ISSN 0003-066X.
  12. ^ "Stanford University's Carol Dweck on the Growth Mindset and Education". June 19, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  13. ^ "Carol Dweck Revisits the 'Digital Nomad Life Lessons & Mindset'" September 22, 2015.
  14. ^ "Carol Dweck Biography" 2016-07-18
  15. ^ Dweck, Carol S. - Department of Psychology, Stanford University
  16. ^ Dweck, C. (2017). "The Journey to Children's Mindsets–and Beyond". Child Development Perspectives. 11(2): 139-144. doi:10.1111/cdep.12225.
  17. ^ "American Academy of Arts & Sciences Members 1780-Present" (PDF). September 19, 2017. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  18. ^ "Four APS Fellows Elected to the National Academy of Sciences". May 2, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  19. ^ "Stanford professor Carol Dweck, pioneer of 'mindset' educational theory, awarded $4 million prize". 2017-09-19. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  20. ^ "Stanford psychologist recognized with $4 million prize for education research". September 19, 2017. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  21. ^ "Schools are desperate to teach growth mindset". The January 21, 2017. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  22. ^ a b Tom Chivers (January 14, 2017). "What is Your Mindset". Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  23. ^ David Paunesku, Gregory M. Walton, Carissa Romero, Eric N. Smith, David S. Yeager, Carol S. Dweck (April 10, 2015), "Mind-Set Interventions Are a Scalable Treatment for Academic Underachievement", Psychological science, 26 (6), pp. 784–793, doi:10.1177/0956797615571017, PMID 25862544, S2CID 13316981CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  24. ^ David S. Yeager, Paul Hanselman, Gregory M. Walton, Jared S. Murray, Robert Crosnoe, Chandra Muller, Elizabeth Tipton, Barbara Schneider, Chris S. Hulleman, Cintia P. Hinojosa, David Paunesku, Carissa Romero, Kate Flint, Alice Roberts, Jill Trott, Ronaldo Iachan, Jenny Buontempo, Sophia Man Yang, Carlos M. Carvalho, P. Richard Hahn, Maithreyi Gopalan, Pratik Mhatre, Ronald Ferguson, Angela L. Duckworth & Carol S. Dweck (August 7, 2019), "A national experiment reveals where a growth mindset improves achievement", Nature, retrieved May 7, 2020CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ In which science actually self-corrects, January 14, 2017, retrieved November 26, 2019
  26. ^ Rustin, Susanna (10 May 2016). "New test for Growth Mindset". The Guardian. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  27. ^ Folioano, Francesca; Rolfe, Heather; Buzzeo, Jonathan; Runge, Johnny; Wilkinson, David (July 2019), Changing Mindsets: Effectiveness trial
  28. ^ Krakovsky, Marina (March 1, 2007). "The Effort Effect – Article". Stanford Magazine. Retrieved November 26, 2019.


External links[edit]