Dr. David Yeager: How to Master Growth Mindset to Improve Performance

Dr. David Yeager: How to Master Growth Mindset to Improve Performance

Dr. David Yeager (00:00:00)

  • Dr. David Yeager is a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and a world-renowned expert on mindsets, particularly growth mindset.
  • He is also an expert on the stress is performance-enhancing mindset.
  • His new book, "10 to 25: The Science of Motivating Young People," will be released in the summer of 2024.
  • Growth mindset is a belief that one's abilities can be developed through effort and learning.
  • People with a growth mindset are more likely to:
    • Set challenging goals.
    • Persist in the face of setbacks.
    • See effort as a path to mastery.
    • Learn from criticism.
  • Growth mindset can be applied in all areas of life, including academics, sports, and relationships.
  • Stress is performance-enhancing mindset is a belief that stress can be a positive force that can help one perform better.
  • People with a stress is performance-enhancing mindset are more likely to:
    • See stress as a challenge rather than a threat.
    • Use stress to focus their attention and energy.
    • Recover quickly from setbacks.
  • Stress is performance-enhancing mindset can be combined with growth mindset to achieve optimal performance.
  • Optimal learning environments for individuals:
    • Provide opportunities for challenge and growth.
    • Encourage effort and persistence.
    • Offer feedback and support.
  • Optimal learning environments between individuals:
    • Promote collaboration and cooperation.
    • Encourage open communication and sharing of ideas.
    • Build trust and rapport.
  • Optimal learning environments in the classroom:
    • Use active learning strategies.
    • Encourage student engagement and participation.
    • Create a positive and supportive classroom climate.
  • Optimal learning environments in families:
    • Encourage open communication and sharing of ideas.
    • Set high expectations and provide support.
    • Praise effort and persistence.
  • Optimal learning environments in sports teams:
    • Emphasize teamwork and cooperation.
    • Set challenging goals and provide feedback.
    • Create a positive and supportive team environment.
  • Optimal learning environments in groups of all sizes and kinds:
    • Share a common goal or purpose.
    • Encourage open communication and sharing of ideas.
    • Build trust and rapport.

Growth Mindset; Performance, Self-Esteem (00:04:20)

  • A growth mindset is the belief that one's abilities can be developed through effort and support.
  • A 2019 study showed that a brief growth mindset intervention for ninth graders led to improved academic outcomes, including higher grades and enrollment in more challenging math classes, even four years later.
  • A growth mindset encourages viewing mistakes as opportunities for growth, leading to more effective coping strategies and improved performance.
  • Individuals with a growth mindset are open to self-improvement and learning from others, rather than comparing themselves to others and feeling superior or inferior.

“Wise” Intervention, Teaching Growth Mindset (00:10:31)

  • The interventions are designed to have long-lasting effects by convincing individuals to adopt a different mindset and providing strategies for remembering and applying the new mindset.
  • The interventions aim to avoid condescension and shame, and instead create an environment where individuals are receptive to new ideas.
  • Scientific information: Presenting new, non-obvious, and useful scientific ideas.
  • Stories: Sharing stories from relatable individuals who have successfully applied the ideas in their lives.
  • Personal narrative: Asking participants to write a narrative about a time when they struggled, doubted themselves, and then remembered the idea of personal growth.

Stories & Writing Exercises (00:15:12)

  • Writing a story about oneself or others succeeding can help build a growth mindset.
  • This suggests that there are brain circuits underlying growth mindset behaviors and thinking.
  • Writing a story about the effort and learning involved in achieving a goal can lead to a more realistic sense of ability and motivation to practice.
  • Lay theory interventions involve providing people with different stories to change their intuitive theories about the world and adversity.
  • Stories are effective in conveying theories because they present them in a narrative way, making them easier to understand and remember.
  • A simple narrative about overcoming difficulty can teach the lay theory that when things are difficult, they can change with effort.
  • Without intervention, people may not naturally develop a growth mindset because they lack specific touchpoints or examples to look for.
  • Writing exercises that focus on frustration, change, and improvement can help people see patterns of growth in their own lives and motivate them to take action.
  • This recursive process involves giving people a starting hypothesis about the world, having them try things, struggle, fail, improve, and then see that improvement as true, leading to a self-reinforcing cycle of growth.

Effort Beliefs, Physiologic Stress Response (00:19:42)

  • The standard growth mindset message has reappraisal components around effort beliefs.
  • Effort belief: if something is hard, it means you're doing the wrong thing.
  • People with a fixed mindset view effort as a sign of lacking potential and are more likely to quit when faced with challenges.
  • Growth mindset research didn't always deal with the visceral experience of stress and frustration.
  • People need to know how to interpret their stress response in order to benefit from a growth mindset.
  • Researchers are trying to marry together the growth mindset idea with work on appraisal to help people better appraise their stress response when facing challenges.

Stress-Is-Enhancing vs Stress-Is-Debilitating Mindsets (00:24:44)

  • People tend to believe that physiological arousal is universally bad, leading to the "stress is debilitating" belief.
  • This belief suggests that anxiety and stress are signs of impending failure and will always interfere with performance.
  • The "stress is debilitating" belief is prevalent in society, as seen in stress management memes that emphasize the need to eliminate stress.
  • An alternative explanation from the growth mindset perspective suggests that stress can be a sign of embracing important challenges and preparing for optimal performance.
  • This is known as the "stress is enhancing" belief, which views stress as a resource to be cultivated rather than a destructive force.
  • Adopting a stress-is-enhancing mindset can lead to changes in stress physiology, as the body's reaction to stress is influenced by our interpretation of it.
  • Pairing the stress-is-enhancing belief with a growth mindset, which encourages openness to challenges, can be particularly effective in optimizing performance.

Sponsor: AG1 (00:29:28)

  • Huberman has been taking AG1 once or twice a day since 2012.
  • AG1 provides vitamins, minerals, adaptogens, and micronutrients that may be lacking in a whole food diet.
  • AG1 supports gut health, immune system health, brain health, and various cellular and organ processes.
  • AG1 is designed to provide foundational nutritional support for mental and physical health.
  • Special offer: five free travel packs and a year supply of vitamin D3 K2 with the purchase of AG1 at drinkag1.com/huberman.

Language & Importance, Stressor vs. Stress Response (00:30:58)

  • Stress can be reframed as levels of arousal to enhance performance rather than diminish it.
  • Stress involves a stressor (demand), appraisal (interpretation), and response (threat or challenge).
  • The stress response is a result of appraising a stressor as more than one can handle, leading to a threat response that prepares the body for damage and defeat.
  • In modern times, social stressors often pose a threat of social death, such as bullying or social exclusion.
  • Our appraisal of stressors can significantly impact our response, and viewing them as opportunities for growth and learning can lead to a more positive and productive mindset.
  • Using different language to describe stressors and our responses can help us to adopt a more positive and growth-oriented perspective.

Physiologic Cues, Threat vs Challenge Response (00:37:54)

  • The autonomic nervous system ranges from deep sleep to high-level panic.
  • The optimal internal state for dealing with challenges is just beyond one's ability, balancing challenge and resources.
  • There are two types of high arousal states: challenge-type stress and threat-type stress.
  • Challenge-type stress occurs when one is optimally balanced between significant challenges and the resources to overcome them.
  • Threat-type stress occurs when one is highly aroused but lacks confidence in their ability to handle the challenge.
  • Devices measuring arousal cannot distinguish between challenge-type and threat-type stress.
  • The optimal demand for success varies based on the individual's perception of their resources.
  • Resources can be internal (e.g., confidence, ability to reappraise) or external (e.g., friends, training, time).
  • Interventions can help individuals reframe their resources as sufficient to meet challenges, promoting a challenge-type response.
  • Reframing intense stress and worry as resources can aid in coping at a physiological level.

Mentor Mindset & Leadership; Protector vs Enforcer Mindset (00:44:35)

  • The mentor's dilemma involves finding the right balance between criticizing someone's work and motivating them to improve.
  • Criticizing without support can discourage individuals, while withholding criticism can hinder their growth.
  • The most effective approach is to set high standards while also providing support, clear communication, and respect for individuals.
  • This approach, known as high standards and high support (HS/HS), conveys that individuals are taken seriously and respected, even when there is disagreement.
  • People want to feel real and safe, which includes feeling believed and understood, even when there is disagreement.
  • It is possible to have high expectations for individuals while also loving and supporting them, avoiding extreme approaches.
  • Adopting a dynamic stance or mindset is crucial for teachers, leaders, coaches, and parents to effectively balance high standards and high support.

Dr. David Yeager: How to Master Growth Mindset to Improve Performance (00:00:00)

  • Growth mindset: the belief that one's intelligence and abilities can be developed through effort and learning.
  • Fixed mindset: the belief that one's intelligence and abilities are fixed traits.
  • "The power of yet" refers to the idea that just because you can't do something now doesn't mean you won't be able to do it in the future.
  • Growth mindset individuals believe that they can learn and improve through effort and practice, while fixed mindset individuals believe that their abilities are fixed and cannot be changed.
  • Growth mindset individuals are more likely to take on challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, and achieve higher levels of success.
  • Challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and try new things.
  • Don't be afraid to fail, view failures as opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Embrace challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth.
  • Seek out feedback from others, both positive and negative.
  • Use feedback to identify areas for improvement and to set goals for yourself.
  • Be open to constructive criticism and use it to fuel your growth.
  • Celebrate your progress, no matter how small.
  • Acknowledge your accomplishments and milestones.
  • Reward yourself for your efforts and achievements.
  • Surround yourself with positive people who support and encourage you.
  • Avoid people who are negative or who try to discourage you.
  • Seek out mentors and role models who can inspire and guide you.
  • Make sure to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly.
  • Take care of your physical and mental health.
  • Prioritize self-care and make time for activities that you enjoy.
  • Growth takes time and effort.
  • Don't get discouraged if you don't see results immediately.
  • Stay persistent and keep working towards your goals.

Strivings, Social Hierarchy & Adolescence, Testosterone (00:55:14)

  • The human brain is hardwired to strive for improvement and self-betterment, which may be an innate human desire.
  • During adolescence, social standing becomes more important, leading to the fear of social ostracism and the need for social validation.
  • Testosterone drives obsessive practice in adolescents, leading to mastery and increased status.
  • Multi-pyramid high schools, with multiple routes to status, foster better adjustment compared to single-pyramid high schools.
  • Testosterone-driven obsessive practice is not limited to males; adult women also have significant levels of testosterone and may engage in similar behaviors.
  • Testosterone levels increase over time in both boys and girls during adolescence, and this increase is associated with reward pursuit motivation and risk-taking behaviors.
  • The slope of the testosterone increase, rather than the absolute level, is equally predictive of neural reactivity during risk-taking tasks for both boys and girls.

Growth Mindset & Transferability, Defensiveness (01:06:28)

  • A growth mindset suggests that success in one area can be applied to other areas of life.
  • Research shows a general association between growth mindset in different domains, but there are also domain-specific mindsets.
  • The closer the growth mindset intervention is to the specific domain of interest, the better it predicts behavior.
  • For sensitive topics, it may be better to use a more abstract or general approach to promoting a growth mindset.
  • Analogic reasoning involves making connections between seemingly unrelated things and can be challenging.
  • Stories can be a powerful tool for illustrating and understanding analogic reasoning.

Challenge, Environment & Growth Mindset (01:11:36)

  • Growth mindset interventions are most effective for low-achieving students in supportive environments with access to advanced courses.
  • Growth mindset is a tool that complements sociological factors affecting resource allocation and opportunities.
  • Growth mindset presumes people naturally want to learn and contribute, but cultural and social pressures can hinder this.
  • Growth mindset aims to remove these barriers and allow people to act on their natural desire to learn and grow.
  • Long-term studies show that growth mindset, combined with a supportive learning context, can have significant positive effects, especially for disadvantaged individuals.

Goal Pursuit, Brain Development & Adaptation (01:19:08)

  • Humans are constantly learning and striving, either progressing or regressing, and this is crucial for human evolution.
  • The brain's reward systems, associated with striving and achieving, are essential for this process.
  • Humans are unique in their ability to manage the world and overcome challenges through learning and growth.
  • Carol Dweck's research suggests that emotional regions of the brain often guide the prefrontal cortex in goal pursuit, challenging traditional views of rational planning.
  • The brain must be adaptable to environmental changes to ensure survival, and emotions drive tactical decisions that lead to action and learning.

Emotions; Loss vs. Gain & Motivation (01:24:54)

  • Fear of social shame or remaining in negative situations can motivate individuals to take action.
  • People are more inclined to take risks to avoid losses than to gain equal rewards.
  • The prospect of making meaningful contributions to others serves as a strong motivator.
  • Emphasizing individuals' potential for positive contributions can create opportunities for their success.
  • Effective managers support their team members and help them achieve remarkable accomplishments.
  • Renowned shooting coach Chip England emphasizes building trust with players before attempting to critique and change their techniques.
  • England's approach focuses on the long-term benefits of developing a reliable jump shot, extending a player's career beyond their athletic prime.
  • Instead of using fear of loss as motivation, England appeals to players' sense of responsibility and the potential impact they can have on their families and future generations.

Skill Building & Challenge, Purpose Motivation (01:32:28)

  • Focusing on contributing to others, rather than avoiding loss or shame, enhances performance and well-being.
  • The meaning of life and feeling connected to others are key predictors of life satisfaction and well-being.
  • The purpose condition, which emphasizes using knowledge and skills to help others, is more motivating than the traditional narrative of suffering now for future material rewards.
  • Framing tedious tasks as opportunities to contribute to others leads to deeper learning, greater persistence, and higher grades over time.
  • Teenagers are willing to engage in boring tasks and sacrifice immediate pleasures when they see a purpose in their actions.
  • Appealing to the love of learning for the sake of others can motivate individuals to endure challenging tasks.

Contribution Value, Scientific Work & Scrutiny (01:39:59)

  • A higher purpose is best defined as making a meaningful contribution to the world or a community.
  • Attaching goals to something that benefits others makes the effort involved its own reward.
  • Reframing difficulty and failure as part of the process of doing something with high integrity for others can change the meaning of effort and make it motivating.
  • Dr. David Yeager emphasizes the importance of motivating individuals to pay close attention to details and accuracy in their work, assuming that it will be scrutinized with the worst possible intentions.
  • Dr. Yeager suggests that people are generally inclined to do good work but may find easier ways to accomplish it unless motivated by the potential difference their work can make.
  • Focusing on skill acquisition and high-quality work is more important than getting good grades or impressing others.
  • Attaching motivation to the contribution one makes can make the process easier and more rewarding.

Self-Interest, Contribution Mindset (01:50:01)

  • Encouraging a "contribution mindset" where individuals strive for the greater good and find meaning in the process is important.
  • Combining self-interested goals with pro-social contributions, such as making a positive impact on others, can be motivating.
  • Successful individuals like Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, and Danielle Kic exemplify this combination.
  • Designing products with integrity and ethics benefits users, increases product quality, profitability, and employee engagement.
  • Steph Akamoto mentored Salony, a young employee at ServiceNow, to make a valuable contribution that led to her promotion.
  • Steph's team's success and her joy in changing someone's life demonstrate the long-term benefits of contributing to both the company and the people around you.

Criticism, Negative Workplaces vs. Growth Culture (01:58:05)

  • Critiques and error identification are essential for scientific progress, but excessive criticism, especially on social media, can create a toxic environment that hinders growth and collaboration.
  • A fixed mindset culture, where individuals prioritize making others look foolish to avoid being criticized themselves, fosters a hostile work environment that stifles growth and learning.
  • Microsoft's transition from a "know-it-all" culture during the Balmer era to a "learn-it-all" culture under Satya Nadella exemplifies the positive impact of promoting growth and learning.
  • A culture that fears mistakes can lead to unethical behavior and concealment of problems, as evident in cases like Boeing's stack ranking system.
  • In a growth-oriented culture, mistakes are embraced as opportunities for learning and improvement, leading to a willingness to examine and rectify errors.
  • Hypercritical individuals may be driven by their own insecurities or self-protection, while constructive criticism aims to enhance and correct errors.
  • While skepticism is easier than belief, growth mindset interventions trust the scientific process, acknowledging that initial studies' shortcomings may have been addressed.

Critique & Support; Motivation; Standardized Tests (02:06:51)

  • Growth mindset is valuable and has substantial evidence supporting its effectiveness, despite criticisms.
  • Criticizing growth mindset may be a way to avoid taking action and doing the necessary work.
  • Exemplars like Jennifer Doudna and Kavon Stassen demonstrate the power of growth mindset in achieving remarkable success.
  • Kavon Stassen's Bridge program at Vanderbilt focuses on grit, resilience, and research publication opportunities, leading to increased racial diversity at NASA and the first black first author on a nature paper in physics.
  • Physicists receive constant critique from colleagues, which is essential for growth and improvement, but selective filtering of critique is important as not all sources are equally valuable.
  • Motivation and drive are crucial factors in selecting students for research labs, rather than solely relying on standardized test scores.
  • Standardized tests have limitations as indicators of ability due to factors like socioeconomic status and access to quality education, and the GRE may benefit those with access to test preparation resources.
  • The success of students admitted under alternative means demonstrates the effectiveness of alternative admissions criteria.
  • Admissions should not be the sole focus; mentoring, training, and breaking the link between past advantages and future work are more critical.
  • The discussion has centered on the concept of growth mindset.

Mindset Research (02:16:40)

  • Dr. David Yeager's transformative experience teaching in a low-income school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, inspired him to shift his focus from law to the science of motivating young people.
  • Inspired by Jeffrey Sachs' work in alleviating poverty, Dr. Yeager realized his skill in motivating teenagers could be used for a greater good.
  • Despite lacking a background in statistics or psychology, Dr. Yeager pursued a Ph.D. in psychology at Stanford University and began collaborating with Dr. Carol Dweck on the study of mindsets.
  • Dr. Yeager's research on growth mindset, which incorporates neuroscience, motivation literature, and attribution theory, has significantly contributed to understanding how people can reach their full potential.
  • Dr. Yeager's upcoming book, "10 to 25," explores the concept of a mentor mindset and how individuals can bring out the best in themselves and others.
  • Dr. David Yeager is a researcher who studies the psychology of motivation and achievement.
  • His book, "10 to 25: The Science of Motivating Young People," explores the factors that influence young people's motivation and achievement.
  • A growth mindset is the belief that one's intelligence and abilities can be developed through effort and learning.
  • People with a growth mindset are more likely to persist in the face of challenges, take risks, and learn from their mistakes.
  • A fixed mindset is the belief that one's intelligence and abilities are fixed and cannot be changed.
  • People with a fixed mindset are more likely to give up easily when faced with challenges, avoid risks, and dwell on their mistakes.
  • Praising people for their intelligence can lead to a fixed mindset.
  • Instead, praise people for their effort, strategies, and persistence.
  • This will help them to develop a growth mindset and become more resilient in the face of challenges.
  • Step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to learn new things.
  • This will help you to grow your intelligence and abilities.
  • Don't be afraid to make mistakes - they are a natural part of the learning process.
  • Feedback is a gift.
  • It helps you to identify areas where you can improve.
  • Be open to feedback and use it to your advantage.
  • Grit is the combination of passion and perseverance.
  • People with grit are more likely to achieve their goals, even when faced with challenges.
  • You can develop grit by setting challenging goals, working hard, and never giving up.
  • Believe in yourself and your ability to learn and grow.
  • This will give you the confidence to take on challenges and achieve your goals.
  • Surround yourself with people who believe in you and support your growth.

Overwhelmed by Endless Content?