Growth Mindset Endnotes

About these endnotes

This is where we provide references and in-depth information about everything in the Growth Mindset playbook.


We express our gratitude to the scientists whose work inspired this Playbook. Any errors or omissions are ours.

How we define this strength

Growth mindset is the belief that you can grow your abilities, often through hard work, good strategies, and instruction from others. This is in contrast to a fixed mindset: the belief that you have set traits that you cannot do much to change. Research on these mindsets often focus on beliefs about intelligence and intellectual abilities, but can also refer to mindsets about malleability in other domains, like personality, morality, or willpower (Dweck, 2012).

…earn higher grades

Mindsets operate as a mental framework through which we perceive, organize, and act on the constant stream of information from the world (Plaks, Levy, & Dweck, 2009). We know that mindsets affect motivation and achievement throughout a long history of research that started with experiments in the lab (e.g., Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Hong, Chiu, Dweck, Lin, & Wan, 1999), then moved on to large-scale correlational research (e.g., Haimovitz, Wormington, & Corpus, 2011; Robins & Pals, 2002; West, Buckley, Krachman, & Bookman, 2018), followed by in-person interventions (e.g., Aronson, Fried, & Good, 2002; Blackwell, Trzesniewski & Dweck, 2007; Good, Aronson, & Inzlicht, 2003), and more recently, large-scale online interventions (e.g., Bettinger, Ludvigsen, Rege, Solli, & Yeager, 2018; Paunesku et al., 2015; Yeager, Romero et al., 2016; Yeager, Walton et al., 2016; Yeager, et al., 2019). These more-recent intervention studies have shown that, across the United States, students exposed to a brief online program that taught them a growth mindset received better grades over the course of an academic semester compared to students exposed to control messages. Typically, growth mindsets are more beneficial to students with more disadvantages, often lower-performing and low-income students (see Dweck & Yeager, 2019).

The concept of growth mindset doesn’t only apply to intelligence

Growth mindset can help children see that social difficulties aren’t necessarily permanent. Believing that people can change—a bully won’t always be a bully, for example—is especially important for adolescents during transitions (Yeager, 2017).

Pulse Check

We wrote these items to facilitate self-reflection. Note that in research studies, it is more effective to rate their agreement with fixed mindset statements  (e.g., “You have a certain amount of intelligence and you can’t do much to change it”). This mitigates the tendency to agree with all questions, because it is typically more socially desirable to hold a growth mindset.

Model it

Across five experiments, Eskreis-Winkler and Fishbach (2018) found that people tend to avoid sharing their failures or information related to failures. Yet adults may be able to model adaptive responses to their own struggles and setbacks to demonstrate how they can be used as a means of growing abilities. For instance, Schunk, Hanson, and Cox (1987) found that when children observed a model who struggles with a task before mastering it, compared to models who do well without struggling, they felt that they could do better on the task and did indeed perform better. Heyman (2008) also found that when adults described the struggles of successful characters, children were more likely to endorse growth mindset beliefs.

Celebrate it

In typical laboratory experiments, children are asked to work on a task and receive one of two types of praise for their success. When they are praised for the process of their learning, like hard work and good strategies, they tend to believe that they can develop their abilities. When children are instead praised for their ability or intelligence underlying their performance, they tend to think their intelligence is fixed (e.g., Kamins & Dweck, 1999; Mueller & Dweck, 1998). This pattern has also been shown in how parents praise their children through observations and reports of the home environment (Gunderson et al., 2013; Pomerantz & Kempner, 2013). 

Enable it

In a nationally representative sample of ninth grade students exposed to a growth mindset intervention, those in schools where challenge seeking was the norm showed larger effects of the intervention (Yeager et al., 2019). For related ideas, see review by Haimovitz and Dweck (2017).


Aronson, J., Fried, C. B., & Good, C. (2002). Reducing the effects of stereotype threat on African American college students by shaping theories of intelligence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38(2), 113–125. doi:10.1006/jesp.2001.1491

Bettinger, E., Ludvigsen, S., Rege, M., Solli, I. F., & Yeager, D. (2018). Increasing perseverance in math: Evidence from a field experiment in Norway. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 146, 1-15.

Blackwell, L. S., Trzesniewski, K. H., & Dweck, C. S. (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

Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindsets and human nature: Promoting change in the Middle East, the schoolyard, the racial divide, and willpower. American Psychologist, 67(8), 614-622. doi:10.1037/a0029783 

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

Dweck, C. S., & Yeager, D. S. (2019). Mindsets: A view from two eras. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 14(3), 481–496. doi:10.1177/1745691618804166

Eskreis-Winkler, L., & Fishbach, A. (2019). Not learning from failure—the greatest failure of all. Psychological Science. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0956797619881133

Good, C., Aronson, J., & Inzlicht, M. (2003). Improving adolescents’ standardized test performance: An intervention to reduce the effects of stereotype threat. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 24(6), 645–662. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2003.09.002

Gunderson, E. A., Gripshover, S. J., Romero, C., Dweck, C. S., Goldin-Meadow, S., & Levine, S. C. (2013). Parent praise to 1- to 3-year-olds predicts children’s motivational frameworks 5 years later. Child Development, 84(5), 1526–1541. doi:10.1111/cdev.12064

Haimovitz, K., Wormington, S. V., & Corpus, J. H. (2011). Dangerous mindsets: How beliefs about intelligence predict motivational change. Learning and Individual Differences, 21(6), 747–752. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2011.09.002

Haimovitz, K., & Dweck, C. S. (2017). The origins of children’s growth and fixed mindsets: New research and a new proposal. Child Development, 88(6), 1849-1859. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12955 

Heyman, G. D. (2008). Talking about success: Implications for achievement motivation. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29(5), 361–370. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2008.06.003

Hong, Y.-Y., Chiu, C.-Y., Dweck, C. S., Lin, D. M.-S., & Wan, W. (1999). Implicit theories, attributions, and coping: A meaning system approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(3), 588–599. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.77.3.588

Kamins, M. L., & Dweck, C. S. (1999). Person versus process praise and criticism: Implications for contingent self-worth and coping. Developmental Psychology, 35(3), 835–847. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.35.3.835

Mueller, C. M., & Dweck, C. S. (1998). Praise for intelligence can undermine children’s motivation and performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(1), 33–52. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.75.1.33

Paunesku, D., Walton, G. M., Romero, C. L., Smith, E. N., Yeager, D. S., & Dweck, C. S. (2015). Mindset interventions are a scalable treatment for academic underachievement. Psychological Science, 26(6), 784–93. doi:10.1177/0956797615571017

Plaks, J. E., Levy, S. R., & Dweck, C. S. (2009). Lay theories of personality: Cornerstones of meaning in social cognition. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 3(6), 1069-1081. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2009.00222.x 

Pomerantz, E. M., & Kempner, S. G. (2013). Mothers’ daily person and process praise: Implications for children’s theory of intelligence and motivation. Developmental Psychology, 49(11), 2040–2046. doi:10.1037/a0031840

Robins, R. W., & Pals, J. L. (2002). Implicit self-theories in the academic domain: Implications for goal orientation, attributions, affect, and self-esteem change. Self and Identity, 1(4), 313-336. doi:10.1080/15298860290106805

Schunk, D. H., Hanson, A. R., & Cox, P. D. (1987). Peer model attributes and children’s achievement behaviors. Journal of Educational Psychology, 79(1), 54–61. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.79.1.54

West, M. R., Buckley, K., Krachman, S. B., & Bookman, N. (2018). Development and implementation of student social-emotional surveys in the CORE Districts. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 55, 119-129. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2017.06.001

Yeager, D. S. (2017). Dealing with social difficulty during adolescence: The role of implicit theories of personality. Child Development Perspectives, 11(3), 196-201. doi:10.1111/cdep.12234 

Yeager, D. S., Romero, C., Paunesku, D., Hulleman, C. S., Schneider, B., Hinojosa, C., . . . Dweck, C. S. (2016). Using design thinking to improve psychological interventions: The case of the growth mindset during the transition to high school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(3), 374-392. doi:10.1037/edu0000098 

Yeager, D. S., Walton, G. M., Brady, S. T., Akcinar, E. N., Paunesku, D., Keane, L., . . . Dweck, C. S. (2016). Teaching a lay theory before college narrows achievement gaps at scale. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(24), E3341-E3348. doi:10.1073/pnas.1524360113 

Yeager, D. S., Hanselman, P., Walton, G. M., Murray, J. S., Crosnoe, R., Muller, C., . . . Paunesku, D. (2019). A national experiment reveals where a growth mindset improves achievement. Nature, 573(7774), 364-369. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1466-y