set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by one or more people or groups of people
For other uses, see Mindset (disambiguation).

In decision theory and general systems theory, a mindset is a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by one or more people or groups of people that is so established that it creates a powerful incentive within these people or groups to continue to adopt or accept prior behaviors, choices, or tools.[citation needed] This phenomenon is also sometimes described as mental inertia, "groupthink", or a "paradigm", and it is often difficult to counteract its effects upon analysis and decision making processes.

A mindset can also be seen as incident of a person's Weltanschauung or philosophy of life. For example, there has been quite some interest in the typical mindset of an entrepreneur.


Mindsets in politicsEdit

A well-known[by whom?] example is the "Cold War mindset" prevalent in both the U.S. and USSR, which included absolute trust in two-player game theory, in the integrity of command chain, in control of nuclear materials, and in the mutual assured destruction of both in the case of war.[citation needed] Although most consider that this mindset usefully served to prevent an attack by either country, the assumptions underlying deterrence theory have made assessments of the efficacy of the Cold War mindset a matter of some controversy.

Most theorists consider that the key responsibility of an embedded power group is to challenge the assumptions that comprise the group's own mindset.[citation needed] According to these commentators, power groups that fail to review or revise their mindsets with sufficient regularity cannot hold power indefinitely, as a single mindset is unlikely to possess the flexibility and adaptability needed to address all future events. For example, the variations in mindset between Democratic Party and Republican Party Presidents in the U.S. may have made that country more able to challenge assumptions than the Kremlin with its more static bureaucracy.

Modern military theory attempts to challenge entrenched mindsets in dealing with asymmetric warfare, terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In combination, these threats represent "a revolution in military affairs" and require very rapid adaptation to new threats and circumstances. In this context, the cost of not implementing adaptive mindsets cannot be afforded.

Mindsets Theory in system thinkingEdit

Building on Maruyama Mindscape,[1][2] Mindset Theory includes cultural and social orientation type values: Hierarchical Individualism (HI), Egalitarian Collectivism (EC), Egalitarian Individualism (EI), Hierarchical Collectivism (HC), Hierarchic Synergism (HS), Egalitarian Populism (EP), Egalitarian Synergism (ES), and Hierarchical Populism (HP).[3]

Collective mindsetsEdit

Naturally, the question regarding the embodiment of a collective mindset comes to mind. Erikson's (1974) analysis of group-identities and what he calls a life-plan seems relevant here. He recounts the example of American Indians, who were meant to undergo a reeducation process meant to imbue a modern "life-plan" that aimed for a house and a richness expressed by a filled bank account. Erikson writes that the Indians' collective historic identity as buffalo hunters was oriented around such fundamentally different reasons/goals that even communication about the divergent "life plans" was itself difficult.

There is a double relation between the institution embodying for example an entrepreneurial mindset and its entrepreneurial performance. Firstly, an institution with an entrepreneurial philosophy will set entrepreneurial goals and strategies as a whole, but maybe even more importantly, it will foster an entrepreneurial milieu, allowing each entity to pursue emergent opportunities. In short, philosophical stance codified in the mind, hence as mindset, lead to a climate that in turn causes values that lead to practice.

Collective mindsets in this sense are described in such works as Hutchin's "Cognition in the wild" (1995), who analyzes a whole team of naval navigators as the cognitive unit or as computational system, or Senges' Knowledge entrepreneurship in universities (2007). There are also parallels to the emerging field of "collective intelligence" (e.g. (Zara, 2004)) and exploiting the "Wisdom of the crowds" (Surowiecki, 2005) of stakeholders. Zara notes that since collective reflection is more explicit, discursive, and conversational, it therefore needs a good ¿gestell?—especially when it comes to information and communication technology.

Most historians use the concept of mentality or mindset to denote very slowly changing mental dispositions active over longer periods of time, but occasionally there have been efforts to also apply it to much more rapidly changing historical situations such as the French revolution (Michel Vovelle) or the short period of Allied occupation of Germany after World War II (Hentschel 2007).

Specific theoriesEdit

Fixed mindset and growth mindsetEdit

According to Carol Dweck,[4] individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of "where ability comes from".

Dweck states that there are two categories (growth mindset versus fixed mindset) that can group individuals based on their behaviour, specifically their reaction to failure. Those with a "fixed mindset" believe that abilities are mostly innate and interpret failure as the lack of necessary basic abilities, while those with a "growth mindset" believe that they can acquire any given ability provided they invest effort or study.

Dweck argues that the growth mindset "will allow a person to live a less stressful and more successful life".

In a 2012 interview, Dweck defined both fixed and growth mindsets:

"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."[5]

A large part of Dweck's research on mindsets has been done in the field of education, and how these mindsets affect a student's performance in the classroom. The growth mindset is clearly the more desirable of the two for students.[6][7] In particular, an individual's mindset impacts how they face and cope with challenges, such as the transition into junior high school from elementary school or losing your job.[4] According to Dweck, individuals with a "growth" theory are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks. 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.

While elements of our personality – such as sensitivity to mistakes and setbacks – can make us predisposed towards holding a certain mindset, we are able to develop and reshape our mindset through our interactions.[8] In multiple studies, Carol Dweck and her colleagues noted that alterations in mindset could be achieved through “praising the process through which success was achieved”,[9] “having [college aged students] read compelling scientific articles that support one view or the other”,[8] or teaching junior high school students “that every time they try hard and learn something new, their brain forms new connections that, over time, make them smarter”.[10] These studies all demonstrate how framing and discussing students’ work and effort play a considerable role in the type of mindset students develop and students’ conceptions of their own ability.

Dweck’s research and theory of growth and fixed mindsets has been useful in intervention strategies with at risk students, particularly in challenging subject areas,[11] dispelling negative stereotypes in education held by teachers and students, understanding the impacts of self-theories on resilience, and understanding how process praise can foster a growth mindset and positively impact students’ motivation levels.[12]

Abundance mindset and scarcity mindsetEdit

Main article: Abundance mindset

Productive mindset and defensive mindsetEdit

According to Chris Argyris (2004), there are two dominant mindsets in organizations: the productive mindset and the defensive mindset.[13] The productive mindset seeks out valid knowledge that is testable. The productive reasoning mindset creates informed choices and makes reasoning transparent.

The defensive mindset, on the other hand, is self-protective and self-deceptive. When this mindset is active, people or organizations only seek out information that will protect them. Truth can be shut out when it is seen as threatening. The defensive mindset may lead to learning based on false assumptions or prevent learning altogether (Argyris, 2004).

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Maruyama, M. (1980). Mindscapes and Science Theories, Current Anthropology, Vol. 21, No. 5. (Oct., 1980), pp. 589-608
  2. ^ Maruyama, M. (1988). Dynamics among Business Practice, Aesthetics, Science, Politics and Religion. Cultural Dynamics 1988; 1; 309-335
  3. ^ Yolles, M.I, Fink, G., 2014, Personality, pathology and mindsets: part 1-3. Vol. 43 n.(1)
  4. ^ a b Dweck, Carol (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-47232-8. 
  5. ^ "Stanford University's Carol Dweck on the Growth Mindset and Education". OneDublin.org. 2012-06-19. 
  6. ^ Scott, Michael; Ghinea, Gheorghita (November 2013). "On the Domain-Specificity of Mindsets: The Relationship Between Aptitude Beliefs and Programming Practice" (pdf). IEEE Transactions on Education. IEEE. 57 (3): 169–174. doi:10.1109/TE.2013.2288700. Retrieved January 1, 2016. 
  7. ^ Yeager, Devid; Dweck, Carol (2012). "Mindsets That Promote Resilience: When Students Believe That Personal Characteristics Can Be Developed" (PDF). Educational Psychologist. Taylor & Francis. 47 (4): 302–314. doi:10.1080/00461520.2012.722805. Retrieved 12 April 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Aldhous, P. (2008). Free your mind and watch it grow. New Scientist, 199(2670), 44-45.
  9. ^ Cimpian, A., Aree, H.C., Markman, E.M., Dweck, C.S. (2007). Subtle linguistic cues affect children’s motivation. Association for Psychological Science, 18(4), 314-316.
  10. ^ Dweck, C.S. (2007). The perils and promises of praise. Early Intervention at Every Age, 65(2), 34-39.
  11. ^ Scott, Michael; Ghinea, Gheorghita (18 April 2013). Educating Programmers: A Reflection on Barriers to Deliberate Practice (pdf). Proceedings of the 2nd HEA Conference on Learning and Teaching in STEM Disciplines. HEA. pp. 85–90. doi:10.11120/stem.hea.2013.0005. Retrieved April 9, 2016. 
  12. ^ Veronikas, S., Shaughnessy, M.F. (2004). A reflective conversation with Carol Dweck. Gifted Education International, 19(1), 27-33.
  13. ^ "Surfacing Your Underground Organization". 2004-11-01.