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Carol S. Dweck (born October 17, 1946) is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University.[1] Dweck is known for her work on the mindset psychological trait. She graduated from Barnard College in 1967 and earned a PhD from Yale University in 1972. She taught at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the University of Illinois before joining the Stanford faculty in 2004.

Carol S. Dweck
Carol Dweck for Innovation documentary.jpg
Carol Dweck speaking for the documentary Innovation: Where Creativity and Technology Meet in 2015
Born (1946-10-17) October 17, 1946 (age 71)
Nationality American
Alma mater Barnard College
Yale University
Scientific career
Fields Social Psychology, Developmental Psychology
Institutions Stanford University
Columbia University
Harvard University
University of Illinois


Early yearsEdit

Carol Dweck was born in New York. Her father worked in export-import and her mother in advertising. She was the only daughter and the middle sibling of three children.[2] Dweck excelled in school. In grade six, she says she would sit in class and think, "This isn't very interesting" or "I don't agree with this", but she would not say anything.[2]

Members of her sixth-grade class were seated in order of their IQ. She recognized early on that her school environment rewarded IQ scores. Students with the highest IQ scores could erase the blackboard, carry the flag, or take a note to the principal's office. She explains in a 2015 interview, "On the one hand, I didn't believe that a score on a test was that important; on the other hand, every student wants to succeed in the framework that's established. So looking back, I think that glorification of IQ was a pivotal point of my development."[2]

Personal lifeEdit

Carol is married to David Goldman, who is a national theatre director and critic. Although she did not have children of her own, her husband has two grown children, whose children call Dweck "grandma". She notes the grandchildren have growth mindset and says, "Their parents did very well with that!"[2]

Early careerEdit

Dweck was always interested in people and learning why they do what they do. This interest deepened in college. She has stated: "Psychology combined many of my interest: I loved the scientific method – putting your ideas to the test – and I liked the human subject matter of psychology."[2]

Her first job after graduate school was at the University of Illinois. She spent 11 years completing research projects and observing why people reacted differently to failure, and what it meant to their future success.[3]

In an interview in 2012, she states, "I was fascinated by how people cope with failure or obstacles. I was curious about why some students love challenge, and others who may be equally talented, shy away from challenges – play it safe. I just wanted to figure that out.[3]


Dweck has primary research interests in motivation,[4][5][6][7][8][9] personality, and development. She teaches courses in Personality and Social Development as well as Motivation. Her key contribution to social psychology relates to implicit theories of intelligence, per her 2006 book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. According to Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from. Some believe their success is based on innate ability; these are said to have a "fixed" theory of intelligence (fixed mindset). Others, who believe 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). Individuals may not necessarily be aware of their own mindset, but their mindset can still be discerned based on their behavior. It is especially evident in their reaction to failure. Fixed-mindset individuals dread 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. These two mindsets play an important role in all aspects of a person's life. Dweck argues that the growth mindset will allow a person to live a less stressful and more successful life. Dweck's definition of fixed and growth mindsets from a 2012 interview:

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.[3]

This is important because (1) individuals with a "growth" theory are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks and (2) individuals' theories of intelligence can be affected by subtle environmental cues. For example, children given praise such as "good job, you're very smart" are much more likely to develop a fixed mindset, whereas if given compliments like "good job, you worked very hard" they are likely to develop a growth mindset. In other words, it is possible to encourage students, for example, to persist despite failure by encouraging them to think about learning in a certain way.

Goal of mindsetEdit

Dweck's research challenges the common belief that intelligent people are born smart. As explained by Dweck, a growth mindset is not just about effort. Perhaps the most common misconception is simply equating the growth mindset with effort. "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."[10]

Practicing mindsetEdit

Dweck 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."[11]

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."[4]

As explained by Dweck, this practice reveals a radical new approach to the way we engage with children - that we should praise effort, never talent; that we should teach kids to see challenges as learning opportunities rather than threats; and that we should emphasize how abilities can be transformed. Experiments from around the world have shown that when parents and teachers adopt this approach, and stick to it, the results are remarkable.[4]


Carol Dweck maintains a teaching presence as a psychology professor at Stanford for the 2017-18 school year, teaching Developmental Psychology, Self Theories, and Independent Studies.[1] She says, "I hope that my 21st-century work can also empower people to achieve greater personal freedom and equality."[2]

Dweck has explained her current focus by saying "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. It is hoped that this will attract even more young scholars in developmental psychology to the study of motivation."[12]

Most recent (September 2017), Carol Dweck won the biggest prize in education circles, $3.8 million to continue her research on the ability to learn ($1.9 million cash prize and $1.9 million for educational initiatives). Dweck said in a statement, "I'm thrilled and honored to be the inaugural recipient of this amazing prize. It will allow us to take our work forward and continue to innovate — to develop even more effective interventions for students and more effective materials for teachers to use in classrooms."[13]

Awards and honorsEdit

Dweck is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and of the National Academy of Sciences. She received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association in 2011. 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.[14][15][13][16]

Selected publicationsEdit

  • Heckhausen, J., & Dweck, C. S. (Eds.). (1998). Motivation and self-regulation across the life span. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Dweck, C. S. (1999). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality and development. Philadelphia: Psychology Press.
  • Elliot, A. J., & Dweck, C. S. (Eds.). (2005). Handbook of competence and motivation. New York: Guilford.
  • Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.
  • Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindset: How you can fulfill your potential. Constable & Robinson Limited.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Dweck, Carol S. - Department of Psychology, Stanford University
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Carol Dweck floats like a butterfly, but her intellect stings like a bee". Schools Week. 2015-06-25. Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
  3. ^ a b c "Stanford University's Carol Dweck on the Growth Mindset and Education". 2012-06-19. Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
  4. ^ a b c "The words that could unlock your child", BBC News, 19 April 2011.
  5. ^ Mangels, J. A.; Butterfield, B.; Lamb, J.; Good, C.; Dweck, C. (2006). "Why do beliefs about intelligence influence learning success? A social cognitive neuroscience model". Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 1 (2): 75–86. doi:10.1093/scan/nsl013. PMC 1838571 . PMID 17392928. 
  6. ^ Job, V.; Dweck, C. S.; Walton, G. M. (2010). "Ego Depletion--Is It All in Your Head?: Implicit Theories About Willpower Affect Self-Regulation". Psychological Science. 21 (11): 1686–1693. doi:10.1177/0956797610384745. PMID 20876879. 
  7. ^ Olson, K. R.; Dunham, Y.; Dweck, C. S.; Spelke, E. S.; Banaji, M. R. (2008). "Judgments of the lucky across development and culture". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 94 (5): 757–776. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.94.5.757. PMC 2745195 . PMID 18444737. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Dweck, C. S. (1986). "Motivational processes affecting learning". American Psychologist. 41 (10): 1040–1048. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.41.10.1040. 
  10. ^ “Carol Dweck Revisits the 'Growth Mindset’” 2015-09-22
  11. ^ “Carol Dweck Biography” 2016-07-18
  12. ^ Dweck, C. (2017). “The Journey to Children’s Mindsets–and Beyond”.Child Development Perspectives. 11 (2): 139-144
  13. ^ a b "Stanford professor Carol Dweck, pioneer of 'mindset' educational theory, awarded $4 million prize". 2017-09-19. 
  14. ^ "American Academy of Arts & Sciences Members 1780-Present" (PDF). 2017-09-19. 
  15. ^ "Four APS Fellows Elected to the National Academy of Sciences". 2012-05-02. 
  16. ^ "Stanford psychologist recognized with $4 million prize for education research". 2017-09-19. 

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