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Summary and Critique of

Carol Dweck’s


The New Psychology of Success

by I.K. Mullins

Copyright©2016 I.K. Mullins. All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission of the author.

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In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, the Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck addresses an important question: why do some people achieve their creative potential and other people do not? Dweck thinks that the answer to the question lies in what people think about themselves, their talents, intelligence and ability to learn. In her book, Dweck summarizes and popularizes the research conducted by herself and her colleagues, revealing how people’s beliefs about their abilities and their openness to learning can influence their success:

  • People who believe that their intelligence and abilities are predetermined and unchangeable perceive every failure as a sign of their immutable incompetence and intrinsic limitations, making them anxious and defensive. Their beliefs encourage them to avoid new challenges. Dweck describes this as a fixed mindset.
  • People who believe that they can develop and improve their abilities via learning and practice, typically do not get easily discouraged and achieve better results over a long term. Dweck describes this as a growth mindset. She points out that people’s mindsets strongly correlate with their openness to learning.

Dweck points out in her book that people can have an open mindset concerning certain traits and a closed mindset concerning other traits; and that people can learn to adjust their mindset in order to accomplish their goals and succeed. Dweck offers a wide range of stories that demonstrate how different mindsets affect people’s lives—stories about Billy Beane, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, John McEnroe, Lee Iacocca and Wilma Rudolph are among the stories the reader finds in her book.

In the final chapter of the book, Dweck describes a workshop that is available as a set of animated lessons called Brainology (

About Carol S. Dweck

Carol Dweck is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. She earned a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1972. Dweck taught at Columbia University, Harvard University and the University of Illinois before she joined the Stanford faculty in 2004.

Her primary research interests are in motivation, personality and development. Her key contribution to social psychology is related to implicit theories of intelligence.


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