Fixed, Growth and False Growth Mindset: 5 dimensions to classify Mindset

If we understand teamwork as collaboration and co-creation, it demands personalities with an open mind and a high orientation towards self-development. The model of the fixed and growth mindset by Carol Dweck is ideally suited to illustrate differences between approaches in group dynamic processes. We have prepared it as an infographic. 

The model of the Fixed and Growth Mindset according to Carol Dweck is incredibly simple – but as well as all things simplified, it is misleading if it is only understood on the surface. For example, there are quite a few people who declare themselves a Growth Mindset and blaim others to have a fixed mindset. In one of her last movies Carol Dweck speaks of a false growth mindset.

5 dimensions to classify Mindset

This characterizes people who consider themselves open but teach a different language in their behavior. In my view, it therefore makes sense to differentiate between different levels, as I have done in the graph:

  1. Perception, so what do I record?
  2. Feeling, what does it trigger in me?
  3. Think, what’s going through my head?
  4. Action, what do I derive from it?
  5. Interactions, how do I translate that into social relationships?

Systemic three-world model helps in practical use

No one has just one or the other, just a fixed or just growth mindset but both and all three together – a mixed mindset. The systemic three-world model helps to differentiate and establish the connection to a context. Thus, there are often significant differences between the private, organizational and professional world of a person.

People can be extremely „fixed“ in their professional life, but also extremely growth-oriented privately. In reflection processes this aspect has to be considered. Notice: A person, who can behave privately differently from his job, can use the private resources if the environment allows him or her so. It is likely that he or she has curtailed the context.

Everyone has Growth-Mindset-Potential

The professional world means the world in which I was sozialized professionally, as an engineer, math professor or actor. This is crucial for training from a more fixed to a growth-oriented view of things. An engineer typically has a scientific view and a mechanical-causal understanding of the world. A humanities scholar is more likely to seek experience and historical alignment – here are fundamental differences when we connect it to the mindset.

A growth diminishing would integrate different worldviews and tend to seek to broaden one’s professional vision. Interestingly enough, I see current trends in various places in renewing the (typical German!) mechanical-causal understanding that in the VUCA world it is reaching its limits everywhere. In a mechanical view, the mindset is also affected. Once you go through the three worlds, you may find that he thinks, feels and acts twice – fixed and also growth-oriented.

If you imagine 10 specific situations and each world, it becomes even more differentiated.

Most of us have a Mixed Mindset

After all, every person has a mixed mindset in which all three or at least two aspects of Carol Dweck are represented – only in different mixing ratios. My model should help to reflect on it – it should not rank and measure. In its growth-oriented application, we use it to open feedback and collaborative and interactive learning processes. We reflect on what has shaped us towards a fixation and what this shows. We think about how we can resolve this fixation and train a growth mindset.

Carol Dweck’s model works well together with developmental psychological approaches, because ultimately a mixed mindset reflects a personality structure that has ceased to develop emotionally. This reflects my division into perception, feeling, thinking, acting and interacting. If you want to know how to work specifically with such models, visit our Psychology of Change and Agile Mindset courses.

The author of this article, Svenja Hofert, is Co-founder of Teamworks GTQ GmbH in Hamburg and bestselling author.

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