Carol Dweck

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Carol Dweck
Carol Dweck speaking for the documentary Innovation: Where Creativity and Technology Meet in 2015
Carol Susan Dweck

(1946-10-17) October 17, 1946 (age 77)
Alma materBarnard College
Yale University (PhD)
Scientific career
FieldsSocial psychology
Developmental psychology
InstitutionsStanford University
Columbia University
Harvard University
University of Illinois
ThesisThe Role of Expectations and Attributions in the Alleviation of Learned Helplessness in a Problem-Solving Situation (1972)

Carol Susan Dweck (born October 17, 1946) is an American psychologist. She holds the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professorship of Psychology at Stanford University. Dweck is known for her work on motivation and mindset. She was on the faculty at the University of Illinois, Harvard, and Columbia before joining the Stanford University faculty in 2004. She was named an Association for Psychological Science (APS) James McKeen Cattell Fellow in 2013, an APS Mentor Awardee in 2019, and an APS William James Fellow in 2020, and has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 2012.

Early life and education[edit]

Dweck was born in New York. Her father worked in the export-import business and her mother in advertising. She was the only daughter and the middle sibling of three children.[2]

In her sixth grade class at the P.S. 153 elementary school in Brooklyn, New York, students were seated in order of their IQ; some responsibilities like erasing the blackboard and carrying the flag were reserved to students with the highest IQs.[3][4] She later described becoming "increasingly afraid to risk her reputation as one of the most intelligent children in the class", by avoiding participation in a spelling bee and a French competition.[3]

She graduated from Barnard College in 1967,[5] and earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Yale University in 1972.[4][6]

Career and research[edit]

After obtaining her PhD, Dweck joined the faculty of the University of Illinois, eventually reaching the rank of associate professor. In 1981, she became a professor at Harvard's Laboratory of Human Development, then returned to the University of Illinois in 1985.[7] In 1989, she joined the faculty of Columbia University, and in 2004 became a Lewis and Virginia Eaton professor of psychology at Stanford University.[8][9]

Dweck's research focuses on mindset and motivation.[10][9]

Mindset work[edit]

Dweck's key contribution to social psychology relates to the concept of implicit theories of intelligence and personality, which she first introduced in a 1988 paper.[11][12] In the academic literature, the term "implicit theories" is often treated as synonymous with "implicit beliefs", "self-theories", or "mindsets", and is defined by Dweck as "core assumptions about the malleability of personal attributes". Dweck later popularized the concept in her 2006 non-academic book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.[11]

According to Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from; those believing their success to be based on innate ability are said to have a "fixed" theory of intelligence (fixed mindset), and those believing 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).[citation needed] In 2012, Dweck defined fixed and growth mindsets, in interview, in this way:[needs update]

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.[13]

According to Dweck, individuals may not necessarily be aware of their own mindset, but according to Dweck, their mindset can still be discerned based on their behavior, being especially evident in their reaction to failure.[citation needed] Dweck has described fixed-mindset individuals as dreading 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.[citation needed] According to Dweck, these two mindsets play an important role in all aspects of a person's life; she argues that the growth mindset allows a person to live a less stressful and more successful life.[citation needed]

As explained by Dweck, a growth mindset is not just about effort. Dweck has written that a common misunderstanding is that the growth mindset is "just about effort". She states, "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."[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."[15] She 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."[16]

Recent work[edit]

In 2017, she 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."[17] Later that year she published the theory[citation needed] in a paper titled "From Needs to Goals and Representations: Foundations for a Unified Theory of Motivation, Personality, and Development."[18]


Dweck's findings have been reported in journals such as Psychological Science and Nature, with research teams led by Dweck.[19][20]

Some critics have said that Dweck's research can be difficult to replicate; for instance, a 2017 opinion piece by Toby Young, associate editor of The Spectator, states that:

Timothy Bates, a psychology professor at Edinburgh University, has been trying for several years to replicate Dweck’s findings, each time without success, and his colleagues haven’t been able to either. Dweck explains these failures by claiming the psychologists in question don’t create the right experimental environment — it’s too delicate a task for these ham-fisted troglodytes. But if professors of psychology can’t repeat the results, what hope do teachers surrounded by unruly children have?[21]

Nick Brown, who co-developed the GRIM statistical test, argued in 2017: "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?" Brown points out that most of the research in this area has been conducted by Dweck or her collaborators. After Brown's application of the GRIM method showed that some of the means reported in the 1998 study were "impossible", he reviewed the original study data and found some errors in the recording of data, which Dweck publicly acknowledged. Brown praised Dweck's "openness and willingness to address the problems".[22][better source needed]

Other education and psychology researchers have expressed 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 University 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.[clarification needed][23]

In July 2019, a large randomized controlled trial of growth mindset training by the Education Endowment Foundation in England, involved 101 schools and 5018 pupils across the country. After the trial they found that pupils in schools receiving the intervention showed no additional progress in literacy or numeracy relative to pupils in the control group. These findings were determined by the national Key Stage 2 tests in reading, grammar, punctuation, and spelling (GPS), and mathematics.[24][non-primary source needed]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Dweck was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002,[25] and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association (APS) in 2011.[26] She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012.[1][27] Dweck was named an APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow in 2013.[28] 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.[29][30] Dweck received an APS Mentor Award in 2019,[31] and was named an APS William James Fellow in 2020.[32]

Selected publications[edit]


  • Dweck, Carol S.; Leggett, Ellen L. (April 1988). "A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality". Psychological Review. 95 (2): 256–273. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.95.2.256. ISSN 1939-1471.
  • Dweck, C. S.; Chiu, C. Y.; Hong, Y. Y. (1995). "Implicit Theories: Elaboration and Extension of the Model". Psychological Inquiry. 6 (4): 322–333. doi:10.1207/s15327965pli0604_12. hdl:10722/44537.
  • Blackwell, Lisa S.; Trzesniewski, Kali H.; Dweck, Carol Sorich (February 2007). "Implicit Theories of Intelligence Predict Achievement Across an Adolescent Transition: A Longitudinal Study and an Intervention". Child Development. 78 (1): 246–263. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.00995.x. ISSN 0009-3920.


Personal life[edit]

Dweck 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.[33]


  1. ^ a b Dweck, Carol S. and NAS Staff (June 2023). "Carol S. Dweck—Stanford University". Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Retrieved June 21, 2023.
  2. ^ McInerney, Laura; Dweck, Carol (June 25, 2015). "Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University" (interview). Retrieved June 21, 2023.
  3. ^ a b Hill, Andrew (2019-12-06). "Psychologist Carol Dweck: 'Everyone is a work in progress'". Financial Times. Retrieved 2023-09-06.
  4. ^ a b Trei, Lisa (February 7, 2007). "New Study Yields Instructive Results on How Mindset Affects Learning". Stanford News. Archived from the original on August 26, 2019. Retrieved June 21, 2023.
  5. ^ Barnard College Staff (April 10, 2018). "Being the First: Carol Dweck '67". Barnard News ( New York, NY: Columbia University. Archived from the original (alumni feature) on January 8, 2020. Retrieved June 21, 2023.
  6. ^ Dweck, Carol Susan (1972). The Role of Expectations and Attributions in the Alleviation of Learned Helplessness in a Problem-Solving Situation. (PhD thesis). Yale University. hdl:10079/bibid/9849217. OCLC 5066128.
  7. ^ Dweck, Carol & Stanford University Staff (June 21, 2023). "Carol Dweck" (employment autobiography). Stanford Profiles ( Retrieved June 21, 2023.[third-party source needed]
  8. ^ Glenn, David (May 9, 2010). "Carol Dweck's Attitude". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved September 6, 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Professor Carol S. Dweck". Yidan Prize Foundation. Retrieved 2023-09-06.
  10. ^ Tugend, Alina (2020-08-12). "Feel Like You're Going Out of Your Mind? Consider Your Mind-Set". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-09-06.
  11. ^ a b Lüftenegger, Marko; Chen, Jason A. (April 2017). "Conceptual Issues and Assessment of Implicit Theories". Zeitschrift für Psychologie. 225 (2): 99–106. doi:10.1027/2151-2604/a000286. ISSN 2190-8370. Retrieved 6 September 2023.
  12. ^ Dweck, Carol S.; Leggett, Ellen L. (April 1988). "A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality". Psychological Review. 95 (2): 256–273. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.95.2.256. ISSN 1939-1471.
  13. ^ Morehead, James & Dweck, Carol (June 19, 2012). "Stanford University's Carol Dweck on the Growth Mindset and Education". Retrieved June 21, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Dweck, Carol (September 22, 2015). "Carol Dweck Revisits the 'Growth Mindset'". Education Week ( Retrieved June 20, 2023.
  15. ^ Syed, Matthew (April 19, 2011). "The Words That Could Unlock Your Child". BBC News ( Retrieved June 21, 2023.
  16. ^ Dweck, Carol S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York, NY: Random House. p. 179f. ISBN 1400062756. OCLC 58546262. Retrieved June 21, 2023.
  17. ^ Dweck, C. (2017). "The Journey to Children's Mindsets–And Beyond". Child Development Perspectives. 11 (2): 139–144. doi:10.1111/cdep.12225.
  18. ^ Dweck, C.S. (2017). "From Needs to Goals and Representations: Foundations for a Unified Theory of Motivation, Personality, and Development". Psychological Review. 124 (6): 689–. doi:10.1037/rev0000082. PMID 28933872. S2CID 20102505.
  19. ^ Paunesku, David; Walton, Gregory M.; Romero, Carissa; Smith, Eric N.; Yeager, David S.; Dweck, Carol S. (April 10, 2015). "Mind-Set Interventions Are a Scalable Treatment for Academic Underachievement". Psychological Science. 26 (6): 784–793. doi:10.1177/0956797615571017. PMID 25862544. S2CID 13316981. Retrieved June 19, 2023.
  20. ^ Yeager, David S.; Hanselman, Paul; Walton, Gregory M.; Murray, Jared S.; Crosnoe, Robert; Muller, Chandra; Tipton, Elizabeth; Schneider, Barbara; Hulleman, Chris S.; Hinojosa, Cintia P.; Paunesku, David; Romero, Carissa; Flint, Kate; Roberts, Alice; Trott, Jill; Iachan, Ronaldo; Buontempo, Jenny; Yang, Sophia Man; Carvalho, Carlos M.; Hahn, P. Richard; Gopalan, Maithreyi; Mhatre, Pratik; Ferguson, Ronald; Duckworth, Angela L.; Dweck, Carol S. (August 7, 2019). "A National Experiment Reveals Where a Growth Mindset Improves Achievement". Nature. 573 (7774): 364–369. Bibcode:2019Natur.573..364Y. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1466-y. PMC 6786290. PMID 31391586. S2CID 199466753.
  21. ^ Young, Toby (January 21, 2017). "Schools are Desperate to Teach Growth Mindset". The Spectator. Archived from the original on March 9, 2017. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  22. ^ Chivers, Tom (January 14, 2017). "What is Your Mindset". Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  23. ^ Rustin, Susanna (May 10, 2016). "New Test for Growth Mindset". The Guardian. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  24. ^ Folioano, Francesca; Rolfe, Heather; Buzzeo, Jonathan; Runge, Johnny; Wilkinson, David (July 2019). Changing Mindsets: Effectiveness Trial—Evaluation Report (PDF) (Report). London, England: The Education Endowment Foundation. p. 43.
  25. ^ AAA&S Staff (June 2023). "AAA&S—Member Directory" (directory entry—search result). Cambridge, MA: American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAA&S). Retrieved June 21, 2023.
  26. ^ "Carol S. Dweck: Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions". The American Psychologist. 66 (8): 658–660. November 2011. doi:10.1037/a0024397. ISSN 1935-990X. PMID 22082377.
  27. ^ APS Staff (May 2, 2012). "Four APS Fellows Elected to the National Academy of Sciences". Retrieved June 21, 2023.
  28. ^ APS Staff (April 26, 2013). "James McKeen Cattell Fellows". Retrieved June 20, 2023. See also this link for the award date.
  29. ^ "Stanford professor Carol Dweck, pioneer of 'mindset' educational theory, awarded $4 million prize". 2017-09-19. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  30. ^ "Stanford psychologist recognized with $4 million prize for education research". September 19, 2017. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  31. ^ APS Staff (March 29, 2019). "APS Mentor Award Recipients". Retrieved June 20, 2023. See also this link for the award date.
  32. ^ APS Staff (2020). "Awards 2020: 2020 APS William James Fellow". Retrieved June 20, 2023.
  33. ^ Krakovsky, Marina (March–April 2007). "The Effort Effect" (host university news feature). Stanford Magazine. Retrieved November 26, 2019.

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