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  • Writer's pictureJason Griffing

Entity vs incremental theories of intelligence

Carol Dweck and others argue that there are two competing theories on intelligence. "Entity theorists" attribute success or failure to ingrained and unalterable traits, using language like "I am smart" or "I am dumb." "Incremental theorists", on the other hand, believe mastery can be achieved through a step-by-step process. They embrace the process of growth. They see success as a result of hard work and failure as an opportunity to learn.

Entity theorists can be very intelligent, but also tend to be far more brittle because they see failure as a reflection of their innate worth. While incremental theorists can be far more resilient, allowing them to push to the highest levels of performance because the inevitable setbacks, while still painful, are framed primarily as opportunities to learn and improve.

This idea has powerful implications for individuals, leaders, parents, and leaders alike.

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