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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Wells

Mindset by Carol Dweck - Review & Discussion Questions

*Workbook in Progress*

I am still catching up on creating workbooks for the previous books I posted questions for - including this one. All questions will remain available to you here in the meantime!

Intro to the Review

We have all had the experience of enthusiastically starting a new book only to realize that it is not what were expecting. The purpose of the following review is not to express my opinion on whether the book is "good" or "bad." I expect most of the books I read to be "good," Whether or not it is the right book for you is another question entirely. My goal for this and every review I write is to help you decide whether this book would be a good fit for you.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

  • Does it seem like the content covered in this book aligns with what I was expecting to find?

  • Is the main problem addressed in this book similar to my own goal for what I would like to get from reading it?

  • Is the style and format written in a way that will not hinder my ability to get the most value from this book?

  • Am I the intended audience for this book?

If after reading the review, you can answer yes to all these questions, there's a pretty good chance this book is the right fit for you. If not, well, there are plenty more books out there just waiting for you to read them.


The New Psychology of Success

Carol Dweck, Ph.D.

Ⓒ 2007 Baltimore Books

320 pages

“Real self-confidence is not reflected in a title, an expensive suit, a fancy car, or a series of acquisitions. It is reflected in your mindset: your readiness to grow.”

Pick up where you left off:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Vocabulary List



Book Review

Author Background

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., is one of the world's leading researchers in developmental, social and personality psychology. She is a professor of Psychology at Stanford University.

All her publications can be found here. TED Talk: The power of believing that you can improve (2014)

What Problem Does This Book Attempt To Address?

Mindset is based upon the premise that there are two mindsets that people use to frame themselves and their lives. Dweck argues that one of these mindsets, the fixed mindset, holds people back and has many negative consequences on wellbeing and potential for growth for both children and adults. The purpose of the book is to lay out how each mindset differs and demonstrate the negative consequences of having a fixed mindset and the positive consequences of having a growth mindset. She also addresses how to help ourselves, children and employees obtain and maintain a growth mindset, especially when life gets challenging.


· Concept explanation: Clear

· Related stories: Many

· Data references and studies: Many

· Charts and graphics: One

· Practical application: Strong

The book starts by introducing the two mindsets and describing what it feels like to be a person in each mindset. The second chapter goes into great depth about the differences between the two mindsets in a wide range of situations. The following chapters delve into specific situations - work, relationships, parenting, etc. While the information can seem to be repeated from chapter to chapter, the purpose of repeating it in the context of people in different situations keeps it from feeling repetitive. The stories are used in a constructive manner to demonstrate different ways the mindsets can manifest both as thoughts and as actions. The last chapter is dedicated to helping readers make the shift from a fixed to a growth mindset for themselves.

Writing Style & Presentation

· Tone: Professional, but very readable

· Organization: Excellent

· Flow: Excellent

There is nothing I would have like to seen differently in regards to writing style or presentation. The breakdown of information into chapters based on context was ideal and the bullet points summarizing the main points from each chapter are very helpful.

Bringing It all Together

One thing done really well is the balance between stories of people with either the fixed or growth mindset, the results of studies, and the narration of the book. The other thing I thought was done really well was the addition of relevant information based on the section. It never felt like the same chapter repeated over and over with “teacher” swapped out for “boss”, for example. One main thing I took away from this book was that everyone has a fixed mindset, but in what situations and how often it shows up depends on the person.

Overall Recommendation

Who I would recommend this book for: Everyone, to be quite honest. I can’t think of a situation where this information wouldn’t be valuable to know either for yourself or for those you interact with on a regular basis.

If you enjoyed this book, Dweck also has another academic book titled “ Self-theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development (Essays in Social Psychology) " which may be of interest to you as well.


Discussion Questions

Chapter 1

What are the different factors that people commonly attribute to differences in personality?

What is the general consensus about which of these factors impact personality development?

What determines whether someone will achieve expertise?

Why does the view you have of yourself matter?

What creates an urgency to prove yourself in every situation?

What belief is the growth mindset based on?

In the growth mindset, what is the belief about a person’s potential?

Why is the growth mindset beneficial in challenging times?

How do the coping styles of the two mindsets differ?

Where do people’s ideas about risk and effort come from?

What do studies show about people’s ability to estimate their abilities in the fixed mindset compared to the growth mindset?

What is the number one ingredient in creative achievement?

Can you change your mindset?

Chapter 2

How is failure viewed in the fixed mindset?

How is effort viewed in the fixed mindset?

How does the definition of success differ between the fixed and growth mindset?

What is the difference between the two mindsets with regards to receiving feedback?

What is the difference in ideal romantic partners between the two mindsets?

What is “CEO disease”?

Where do the people in the growth mindset thrive as compared to people with a fixed mindset?

When do people with the fixed mindset and growth mindset feel smart?

When do people with the fixed mindset expect to have ability?

How does students with the growth mindset vs the fixed mindset view test scores?

How do people in the fixed mindset view future ability?

What fear has occurred in people with a fixed mindset as a result of the self-esteem movement?

When does a problem arise when people feel they are special?

Why can having a success with a fixed mindset lead to feeling superior to others?

How is the concept of failure transformed with a fixed mindset?

How do people with the growth mindset respond to failure?

How do people with a fixed mindset try to repair their self-esteem after a failure?

What does research tell us about the difference in students with depression who had a fixed or growth mindset?

What is the main problem with stories that encourage putting forth effort, such as The Little Engine That Could?

How does our society as a whole propagate the fixed mindset?

Why is effort a big risk to someone with a fixed mindset?

Why do people with the fixed mindset feel they need to prove themselves again and again?

Do people either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?

What makes the fixed mindset comfortable for some people?

Why isn’t confidence always necessary to thrive with a growth mindset?

Chapter 3

What is “low-effort syndrome” and why does it occur?

How did freshman college students with fixed vs growth mindsets approach a challenging class?

What question should growth minded teachers ask about their students?

What type of person can learn if provided the appropriate conditions?

What are the three ways the fixed mindset can limit achievement?

What is important to note about the role of training in pursuits such as art and athletics?

What percentage of parents believe it is necessary to praise ability to foster self-confidence?

How did children differ when put into a fixed or growth mindset when doing difficult problems?

When asked to share their scores with others, how did the growth minded and fixed minded kids differ?

How do labels and stereotypes impact performance?

Why do high-achieving women, generally speaking, trust the opinions of others too much?

Why are boys and men, generally speaking, less vulnerable to believing the opinions of others?

How does the growth mindset protect against the consequences of labels and stereotypes?

Chapter 4

What is an admission of weakness in the fixed mindset?

Why are we so prone to judge athletes from a fixed mindset perspective?

What is Sports IQ and which mindset does it encourage?

How are naturally gifted athletes set back by a fixed mindset?

What does the “character” of many exceptional athletes stem from?

How do growth-minded athletes respond to setbacks during games?

What does character allow an athlete to do and why?

What did the athletes with the growth mindset find success in?

How did the athletes with a growth mindset approach failure and setbacks?

In what ways did growth minded athletes take charge of getting and maintaining success?

How do growth minded athletic stars differ from fixed minded athletic stars?

Go back and write down some of the growth-minded statements that athletes said in this chapter.

Chapter 5

How is the talent mindset harmful to companies?

How does the talent mindset affect risk taking?

What kind of company cannot thrive?

What attributes did the leaders that were able to lead their companies to greatness possess?

What things didn’t the leaders do?

How does being a growth-minded leader allow you to make decisions based on fact and not fantasy?

What percentage of business leaders had a type of ego that was holding back their company?

Why don’t fixed mindset people want great teams?

What does the fixed mindset belief of superiority lead to in business executives and why is this harmful?

What do fixed mindset people resort to in the face of challenge, competition, and setbacks?

What can happen when a fixed mindset business leader believes they are innately luckier than other people?

Rather than have someone else save their company, what is a recurring theme with fixed mindset CEOs?

Why do fixed mindset CEOs refuse to face reality?

How can a fixed mindset lead to the poor treatment and abuse of employees?

What impact do controlling, abusive bosses have on the mindset of the organization as a whole?

Who are three growth minded leaders used as examples in this chapter?

How does the growth mindset promote teamwork?

What is the growth mindset approved way of fostering productivity?

How did each growth-minded leader change communication in their respective companies?

How does a growth mindset culture differ from a fixed mindset culture when it comes to people sharing their opinions and ideas?

What is groupthink and why does it happen?

What affect have the children of the self-esteem movement had on the workplace?

What impact did having a growth mindset have on negotiation skills?

How do fixed mindset managers and growth mindset managers differ when deciding who to hire?

What four aspects are needed in creating a growth-minded environment for employees?

What is the difference between a boss and a leader?

Why does a growth mindset environment create more leaders?

What are the two names for the contrasting growth and fixed mindset business cultures?

How do people working within growth mindset organizations feel about their company?

How do supervisors working within growth mindset organizations feel about their employees?

Chapter 6

How do people with the fixed mindset feel after being rejected?

How do people with the growth mindset feel about rejection?

What is the evidence that we as a society don’t understand relationship skills?

What are the differences between the growth and fixed mindsets about falling in love?

How does effort or the lack of effort come into play in relationships with people in either a fixed or growth mindset?

What is mind-reading in a relationship, which mindset is likely to believe in it, and what consequence does this have on the relationship?

What assumption can fixed mindset couples make, which upon violation makes them furious with each other?

In the fixed mindset what are relationship problem indicative of?

How does blame come into play in fixed mindset relationships?

What important distinction must be made, even for those with the growth mindset, about a partner’s potential to change?

How can the fixed mindset cause a feeling of competition between partners?

What is the growth mindset way to approach helping your partner develop their interests?

What fixed mindset mentality can harm friendships?

What is a good question to ask yourself to find out who your growth mindset friends are?

Why are fixed mindset people more likely to be shy?

When growth and fixed mindset people are faced with a situation in which they feel shy, how do they respond differently?

What do bullies get out of bullying?

How did students with the fixed mindset as compared to the growth mindset respond to the scenario of being bullied?

In what ways have some schools been able to dramatically reduce bullying?

What steps does Davis take in helping someone who is a bully?

What does the term “misfits” tell us about the culture of bullying in schools?

Chapter 7

What are the two main fixed and growth mindset messages teachers and coaches can send to children?

What messages do children receive from fixed mindset praise?

Why do children’s love of praise make them vulnerable to adopting a fixed mindset?

What is the best gift parents can give their children?

How does the praise of success look different in a growth mindset and fixed mindset perspective?

What are some ways to productively address a child who did not do well, while maintaining a growth mindset?

Why must parents be consistent with the way they speak to their children and the way they speak about others?

What is the best method for reassuring a nervous student, such as before an important exam?

What messages can we send our children to help them develop a growth mindset about failures?

How does protecting children from constructive criticism harm them?

What message do kids with the fixed mindset feel they constantly get from their parents?

At what age can children start picking up growth and fixed mindset messages from their parents?

What is fixed mindset style of discipline teaching children?

What is the “right way” to want the best for your children?

What message can be passed to children when parents want the best for their children in a fixed mindset way?

Why do children of fixed mindset parents feel they must continually earn the right to be loved?

How can parents create ideals for their children that are focused on the growth mindset?

Why is lowering standards not the path to higher achievement for students?

What two things do all great teachers do?

What kind of atmosphere do fixed mindset teachers create?

How do growth minded teachers bridge the learning gap for students?

What is the reason that many students refuse to try or act like they don’t care?

How does a fixed mindset coach create a poisonous environment?

How did fixed mindset coach Alford motivate players?

What was growth mindset coach Wooden’s rule to live by?

What did Wooden ask for from his players?

How can success affect your mindset?

What are the three ways someone could adopt a false growth mindset?

How do you get a true growth mindset?

What is true about all people and the two mindsets?

How do we recognize when we are in a fixed mindset?

What two qualities are required in the process of adopting a growth mindset?

What are the two actions kids pick up on when learning which mindset to adopt from their parents?

What is the best way to address setbacks in a growth mindset manner?

What role do teachers play in passing on a growth mindset?

In a growth mindset, what should be the goal of learning?

The growth mind set not only gives you a way to set high standards, but also pairs it with what?

Chapter 8

What happens to your old beliefs when you decide to change them?

How did Beck learn to teach people to change their subconscious beliefs?

What is missing from the CBT method that must be added to make it growth mindset oriented?

What do the outcomes of the mindset lectures and workshops tell us about how to change our mindset?

Why is change easy and hard?

Why is the fixed mindset a simple route to being loved for children?

How can changing your mindset initially impact your self-esteem?

What can your fixed mindset do when you decide to begin making growth mindset choices?

What is the advice given about making growth mindset plans and actions?

What can you still do to promote a growth mindset, even when you are feeling miserable?

How does the fixed mindset create a feeling of entitlement?

How do you respond to a child who seemed set on keeping his or her fixed mindset?

What does too much effort because of fixed mindset look like?

What the does the fixed mindset have to do with willpower?

How does the growth mindset help with self-control?

Why is important to continually support your change efforts when going from the fixed mindset to the growth mindset?

What are the 4 steps in the journey of changing your mindset?

Why is it important not to suppress your fixed mindset thoughts?

Vocabulary List

These are words I noticed while reading that some people may be unfamiliar with. Use the worksheet to customize this list for yourself.

Effuse: (v.) To make a great or excessive display of enthusiasm

Histrionic: (adj.) Deliberately affected; overly dramatic or emotional

Mete: (v.) To give out by measure

Precocious: (adj.) of a child showing the qualities or abilities of an adult at an unusually early age

Self-Effacing: (adj.) Having or showing a tendency to make oneself modest.

Writ: (n.) A written order or mandatory process

Discussion Question Workbook

The workbook that accompanies this post includes:

  • All discussion questions with space for writing answers

  • All vocabulary words with space to write definitions and add your own words

  • Chapter reflection questions

  • Final reflection questions

  • A condensed list of all discussion questions, for reference.

You can download this complimentary workbook for free:

Mindset by Carol Dweck Discussion Question Workbook - Oak Tree Reading
Download PDF • 567KB

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