What is mindset and what does it mean for youth resilience?
There is wide agreement that resilience – the ability to respond positively to life’s challenges – is an important asset for positive youth development. However, there is much to learn about how to promote resilience in youth and how to help youth increase resilience.
One factor that plays a role in resilience is the type of “mindset” young people hold about their own abilities to change and grow. David Yeager and Carol Dweck have demonstrated that we hold in our minds certain implicit theories regarding our personal qualities and abilities, specifically about whether we can improve them or whether they are fixed and we cannot change them. The first attitude is called a “growth” mindset (personal qualities are malleable and we can change and grow them). The second is called a “fixed” mindset (personal qualities are fixed and stable, resistant to change and improvement). These theories about ourselves and our abilities have a powerful influence over how we approach the world, how we judge events that happened to us, and the choices we make for ourselves.
In a series of studies supported in part by the Thrive Foundation for Youth, Yeager and Dweck (2012) show that students who believe (or are taught) that intellectual abilities are qualities that can be developed (as opposed to qualities that are fixed) tend to show higher achievement across challenging school transitions and greater course completion rates in challenging math courses.
In addition they demonstrate that believing (or being taught) that social attributes can be developed can lower adolescents’ aggression and stress in response to peer victimization or exclusion, and result in enhanced school performance.
Yeager and Dweck suggest that interventions to promote a growth mindset are most effective when they (a) include messages that precisely target the way a fixed mindset is affecting students in a given context and (b) are delivered using methods that lead students to quickly internalize those messages. Such interventions can lead to increased resilience and positively impact youth development.
The 5 Promises
The 5 Promises represent conditions children need to achieve adult success. The collective work of the Alliance involves keeping these promises to America’s youth. This article relates to the promises highlighted below: