is growth mindset a theory?

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Are you looking for an answer about Is growth mindset a theory? Then you have come to the right place.

In this article, we will look at whether growth mindset is a theory or not. We will use various historical backgrounds to answer the question. So let’s start.

If you are looking for a quick answer then Yes, growth mindset is a theory. For long answer keep reading.

But before going into the theory part of growth mindset, first let’s know about what is the definition of theory in research.

what is a theory in research

We often remain confused by the meaning of theory. There are various definitions of a theory. A theory has different meanings in different contexts. For general usage it can have a meaning and for research purpose some other definition.

Theories are used by researchers to do further examination. They use it as a base to check whether the fact is correct or not. Now let’s come to the definition part of a theory.

For defining theory I am using the definition given by Corley and Gioia. They defined theory as “A statement of concepts and their interrelationships that shows how and/or why a phenomenon occurs.”

From the definition it is clear that theory is a statement of concepts that is used to answer why a certain thing happened.

Researchers use different different methods to come at the conclusion of a theory.

Why was the growth mindset theory developed?

Growth mindset theory was developed due to a small incident that happened in the life of an American psychologist. The name of the psychologist is Carol Dweck. She is professor of Psychology at Stanford University.

When she was a young researcher she wanted to know how people cope with failures. For doing this research she started to study behavior of students when given hard problems.

She gave them puzzles to solve. The first puzzle was easy and the second one was hard. She watched their strategies and feelings.

After the research she found that different students reacted differently to hard problems. Some students loved solving hard problems whereas others were sweating.

At that time she started wondering that anyone can love failures too. After this incident she started working to understand the kind of mindset that could turn a failure into a gift.

Who came up with growth mindset theory?

As you read above, Carol Dweck came up with growth mindset theory after finding that students can learn from failures.

When was the mindset theory developed?

Growth Mindset Theory was developed in the 1970s when Carol Dweck started researching about how failures can be a learning opportunity for students.

Carol Dweck later published a book on growth mindset. Here is link to the book if you want to read it.

Carol Dweck: growth mindset summary

Carol Dweck while summarizing growth mindset says that “A growth mindset is when students believe that their abilities can be developed.(Though hard work, good strategies and discipline)”

She says that praising a person can negatively effect their mindset. Instead of praising a person, one should praise their hard work and efforts.

is growth mindset a theory?

As you have saw in above paragraphs that growth mindset concept is given by Carol Dweck after observing students in a class.

Carol Dweck found that some students are happy solving hard problems whereas some other are not feeling at ease while solving the puzzle problems.

She observed that students are not afraid of failures. They are looking at the problems as an opportunity to learn. She wanted to study it more and started researching on it.

After doing various research on students, athletes and leaders she later on coined this concept of Growth Mindset.

From all those experiments and research papers we can conclude that Growth Mindset is a theory.


So this was the post to know about is mindset a theory? I have tried to explain it using historical context of the theory. I hope you got the answer.

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Also, if you want to read about growth mindset facts then you can check my article: Growth Mindset Facts.