Mental health and the interrelationship of growth mindset and resilience

Uncategorized May 04, 2023

Growth mindset vs. fixed mindset

Having a growth mindset means believing that one's abilities, intelligence, and talents can be developed through hard work, dedication, and perseverance. Those with a growth mindset see challenges and setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than as indications of their limitations. They embrace feedback and criticism as a means of improving themselves and are willing to take risks, stepping out of their comfort zones to achieve their goals.

In contrast, people with a fixed mindset believe that their abilities and intelligence are predetermined so cannot be changed. They may avoid challenges and become discouraged by setbacks, believing that their failures demonstrate their inherent limitations.

Having a growth mindset can lead to greater achievement, resilience, and success in all areas of life, as people with this mindset are more likely to take on challenges, persist in the face of obstacles, and view failures as opportunities for growth.

Growth mindset and mental health

Although most of the current research on growth mindset has been done with children and university students, it is reasonable to assume that their findings also have applications to developing a growth mindset in the workplace.

Clinical psychology researchers Jessica L. Schleider, Madelaine R. Abel, and John R. Weisz conducted a random effects meta-analysis of 17 research reports involving subjects ages 4 through 19. Their objective was to discover the role mindset (fixed or growth) played in mental health. They found that the youth who possessed a fixed mindset showed more pronounced mental health problems. Compared to their growth mindset peers, the fixed mindset group were 58% more likely to show severe symptoms of anxiety, depression, or aggression.

They also proved their hypothesis that a growth mindset intervention with high-symptom adolescents would reduce their anxiety and depression and improve their ability to cope with stress. In the short term, these students recovered more quickly after completing a socially stressful task. Nine months later, these young people continued to show positive results including significant declines in depression and reductions in anxiety.

Although the authors of this study note that having a growth mindset may be a key for the treatment and prevention of youth mental health problems, they caution that more research is needed.


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A Chinese study of university students revealed similar findings.

Those students with a growth mindset:

  • Interpreted mistakes as learning opportunities
  • Stayed focused when facing challenges
  • Were more likely to underestimate their own self-reported symptoms of mental illness
  • Demonstrate positive copying mechanisms such as analyzing their own reasons and believing that hard work can improve their performance and ability
  • Were more adaptable when facing difficult situations or challenges
  • Are more optimistic
  • Believe their abilities can be cultivated
  • Believe they can achieve their goals through hard work and perseverance.

In contrast, those students with a fixed mindset:

  • Interpreted mistakes as their lack of competence
  • Avoided facing challenges
  • Were more likely to overestimate their own self-reported symptoms
  • Demonstrate negative coping mechanisms such as justifying failures and finding excuses for those failures
  • Believe their abilities are stable
  • Believe their abilities cannot be improved through effort.

Developing resilience through a growth mindset

There is a strong relationship between growth mindset and resilience, as both concepts share similar attributes of overcoming obstacles and adapting and thriving in the face of challenges.

People with a growth mindset are more likely to exhibit resilience because they believe that their abilities and intelligence can be developed through hard work and dedication. They view setbacks and failures as opportunities to learn and grow and are more likely to persist in the face of obstacles.

In the recent Chinese study of college students mentioned previously, resilience was correlated to improved attention to errors; that is, people with a growth mindset find it easier to bounce back from failures than people with a fixed mindset.

Resilience, in turn, can help people develop a growth mindset. When people are able to overcome difficult situations and bounce back from setbacks, they develop a sense of self-efficacy and confidence in their abilities, which can lead to a more positive and growth-oriented mindset.

In sum, the interplay of growth mindset and resilience creates a powerful virtuous cycle of growth and development, even in the face of adversity.


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