the effort effect


I ran across an interesting article in my wife’s Stanford Alumni magazine this month – it’s called The Effort Effect.  It centers on the work, and the recent book written by psychology professor Carol Dweck.

She claims that the key to unlocking full potential in people is to praise and reinforce their best efforts, rather than their innate skills or intelligence.  Her theory (with strong support in her three decades of research) is that without effort, innately gifted people will never approach their potential.  Naturally less gifted people will never overcome limitations as well.

All of this sounds like common sense so far, right?  It relates to the meta-question concerning whether intelligence is taught or inherited, and gets more interesting when she relates the reward cycle into subject "mind sets" that result.

Dweck says that one key difference is whether people like to show off their ability, or whether they want to increase that ability.  “If you want to demonstrate something over and over, it feels like something static that lives inside of you—whereas if you want to increase your ability, it feels dynamic and malleable,” she says. 

The former tendency leads to a fixed mindset, while the latter lends itself to a growth mindset.

Lots of crossover into developmental and organizational psychology.  Lots to think about.  Discuss among yourselves.


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