Carol S. Dweck, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, is a leading researcher in the dynamics of motivation. Her work bridges developmental psychology, social psychology, and personality psychology; and examines the self-conceptions people use to structure the self and guide their behavior in achievement and interpersonal processes. She taught at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the University of Illinois before joining the Stanford faculty in 2004.
Dweck’s research finds that individuals vary by the extent to which they believe their intelligence and abilities to be either, more fixed and innate, or more malleable. Believing that effort can improve one’s talents—holding an “incremental” view of intelligence—makes an individual better able to deal with failure and stress, and more fit to pursue success. Her research has shown that students who have a “fixed mindset”—the result of being praised for their intelligence—value looking smart over learning. In contrast, students who are praised for their effort or their persistence develop a “growth mindset” with its emphasis on learning and resilience. Dweck’s research has shown how self-theories thus play an important (and causal) role in challenge-seeking, self-regulation, and resilience; and demonstrates how changing self-theories can result in important real-world changes in how people function. “Beliefs matter, beliefs can be changed and when they are, so too is personality,” she has written.
Her scholarly book, Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality and Development (The Psychology Press, 1999), was named Book of the Year by the World Education Federation. More recently, her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Random House, 2006) explores the implications of her theory for business, classroom, relationship, and other contexts; and offers a practical guide to changing one’s own approach to achievement and success. In her many academic papers, Dweck has applied this theory to a range of issues, including conflict resolution, prejudice, and the achievement differentials between girls and boys.
She has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and recently won awards for her contributions to developmental psychology, to social psychology, and to education.
Her awards include the Book Award for Self-Theories from the World Education Federation (an organization of the United Nations and UNICEF) (2004), the Donald Campbell Career Achievement Award in Social Psychology from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (2008), the Award for Innovative Program of the Year from “Brainology” (2008), the Ann L. Brown Award for Research in Developmental Psychology from the University of Illinois (2009), the Klingenstein Award for Leadership in Education from the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University (2010), the Thorndike Career Achievement Award in Educational Psychology from the American Psychological Association (2010), the Beckman Mentoring Award from Columbia University (2011), the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association (2011), the Gallery of Scientists from the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences (2011), the James McKeen Cattell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Psychological Science (2013), and the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (2013).