Cycle 4, Research Round 1 - How does mindset impact mood, perception, and productivity?

Hey guys,

Today, I am going to be diving into my first round of research on what a mindset is, and how it impacts different aspects of your life. In this round, I am going to look into:

  • What a mindset is
  • Different kinds of mindsets
  • Unhealthy vs healthy mindset
  • A broad overview of what a mindset impacts


So, let's get into it defines mindset as: an attitude, disposition or mood or an intention or inclination. (1)  Psychology Today's Gary Klein defines a mindset as a belief that orients the way we handle situations. (2) Both of these sources agree on one big thing: a mindset affects beliefsactions, and our mood. (1,2)

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck birthed the idea that there are different mindsets regarding where our strengths, abilities, and talents come from; an individual can have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. (2) She even wrote a book on it called "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" if anyone is interested. (2) If you would like to take a test on which of the below mindsets you (probably) have, you can find it here:

Image result for mindset(8)

Now, just what are these?

Fixed mindset (the expert) people believe:
 -talent, intelligence, and ability are innate (people are born with a certain amount and cannot change it) (2,3)
-failure is ground-shaking because it makes people second-guess how talented they are ("maybe I'm not as great of a painter as I thought I was...") (2)
 -they need to prove themselves, get defensive if accused of making a mistake (2)
 -they have to measure themselves by their wrong-doings (2)
 -they have to seek perfection and avoid failure (3,9)
 -instead of improving how they do something, they should just reproduce what they know (3)
Growth mindset (the learner) people believe:
 -people can improve their abilities (2,3)
 -failure is just an example of what individuals need to work on (2)
 -errors are just motivation to work harder; growth mindset individuals often have strong perseverance and resilience (2, 9)
 -they should improve how they do what they do (3)

Image result for mindset(9)

Another less widely spoken of mindset is the benefit mindset. This mindset is about leaders. (3)

Benefit mindset (the leader) individuals believe:
 -they should focus on why they do what they do (3)
 -they should develop their strengths to purposefully contribute to a future (3)

These mindsets are not simply any beliefs or ideas, they impact reactions, tendencies, goals, attention-directing, action-mapping, and other cognitive functions. 

Just as there are healthy mindsets (e.g. growth), there can be unhealthy mindsets (like the fixed mindset) that can negatively impact individuals' abilities to progress as people. A fixed mindset that says you have to eliminate all mistakes can squash your curiosity and ability to grow, where a growth mindset can allow you to flourish and grow without such defeat after a mistake. (2)

Image result for mindset(3)

A great way to visualize the difference between the mindsets is to use the example of grocery shopping. Someone with a fixed mindset would do their shopping habitually, buy what they usually do, and not stray from the 'norm'. An individual with a growth mindset would consider or follow through with purchasing new and different ingredients. Lastly, someone with a benefit mindset would not only consider purchasing new goods but also contemplate the impacts of these goods on a larger scale (e.g. buying local products to support local farmers, buying fair trade). (3) 

Outside of these large mindsets, individuals also have their own definitions of minor mindsets that you should "get rid of". Magazine companies are notorious for flaunting titles showing what mindsets you should 'get rid of' for 'a better life'.  (4)

Bustle articles say you should stop having the mindsets that make you think:
-you're the victim
-you're not worthy
-something is an obstacle instead of an opportunity**
-everything is permanent**
-you'll never find love
-you should fear getting sick
-absolutes exist
-you should be afraid of the doctor
-you are shaped by your past**
-you can't do something**
-life is a struggle (4)

That was wild. Obviously, some of these are a little...out-there. Some of them, however, overlap with ideas found in my previous (credible) research. For example, thinking you are shaped by your past can directly be linked to the fixed mindset. As can seeing things as obstacles instead of opportunities, thinking you cannot do something, and thinking everything is permanent. (2,4)

I poked around and found that Lifehack, Christian Today, Bustle, Care2 and many others had articles regarding mindsets that hold you back from success. A lot of these, too, had some kind of point regarding perfectionism, focus on external over internal change, a feeling of entitled-ness, and comparison between oneself and others. These points, too, can overlap with different mindsets discussed above. (2,4,5,6,7,9)


What can I conclude from this? There are a small number of scientifically recognized mindsets and attitudes that impact your outlook on life and decisions, but from these mindsets are tiny ideologies and ideas that stem into a category of their own, and have gone more mainstream. The "accepted" mindsets can be argued over, but people generally recognize both the growth and fixed mindsets, and sometimes (usually) some form of benefit. 


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Thank you guys for reading this week's research! As always, if you have any recommendations, critiques, or general comments be sure to drop them below. Stay tuned for next week when I will be looking into: 

  • If we can change our mindsets (both intentionally and unintentionally)
  • How self-awareness impacts ability to change
  • How mindsets change with maturity


Thanks again, see you guys around

Original Post

Hey Joanna!

Wow! I'm blown away by your first round! Not only is your research and your inquiry question super fascinating, your personable style of writing made reading so enjoyable! I really enjoyed the grocery shopping analogy as that really helped me better my understanding. Maybe for your upcoming research, you could look around how effective/easy it truly is to change your mindset.

Here are some sources that may be of use to you:

Good luck and great job!

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