I'm thinking a lot about learning, especially in a professional context, and one thing that shows, again and again, is the growth mindset.
And so when the replication crisis swept through psychology during the mid 2010s, people began sniffing around 'growth mindset' with increasing suspicion. You can take your pick of summary articles: Scott Alexander being doubtful in 2015, Scientific American in 2019, Jay Lynch's skeptical Medium piece from 2018, some coverage of a successful replication (and debate in the comments) over at Marginal Revolution in 2018.
It's from Practice As The Bar For Truth. If you visit the post, the names in the article are links.
One that I like the most is Jay Lynch's skeptical Medium piece from 2018.
Simultaneously, the author mentions that a growth mindset worked for him at university and finds it useful in practice. It's confusing.
Microsoft is rolling out a new management framework to its leaders. It centers around a psychological insight called growth mindset
On the other hand, is Andrew Huberman explaining adult learning in detail. He paints a different picture. Learning takes a lot of effort and focus. Also, there is a big difference in learning before 25 years old and after that.
AFAIK growth mindset has a negligible impact on kids. But is there any proof it works on adults?
My thoughts #
- Measurable effect is so tiny that it seems like a waste of time.
- I see even less proof that you can change your mindset.
- Children can learn by experience. A growth mindset until around 25 years old makes a lot more sense.
- Growth mindset after 25 years old seems like a distraction.
- Instead of thinking about helping workers gain competence (I recommend reading about Self-determination theory (SDT)) your boss feels that it's your fault—you have a wrong mindset.
- Even if you can learn anything, there will be huge variability. Years ago, after reading about it, I had invested a lot of time learning a bunch of random skills. Your time and effort elsewhere would give you better results.
- It reminds me of my disappointments with positive psychology in general. Even if effects are significant enough for publication, many are just not worth your time.
Anecdotally, even in my personal experience, it can help with motivation for learning. If you think you can't—switching to a growth mindset can help a lot.
A growth mindset makes the most sense as an enabler. You are stopping yourself from learned helplessness. But, you need to do an analytical analysis. How much time will it take to learn something? What else can you do at that time? Is it worth it?
For kids, I think it can be constructive. For adults, I recommend listening to Andrew Huberman explaining adult learning and using your effort more strategically.
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