2020 William James Fellow

Carol S. Dweck

Stanford University

At Carol Dweck’s New York City elementary school, her class was seated in order of IQ. The experience launched a lifetime of scientific discovery—a quest to understand the implicit assumptions embedded in our culture, practices, and selves that constrain human development and growth. In her work, Dweck distinguishes between the belief that intelligence is fixed more or less at birth and the view that intelligence can grow “like a muscle” with effort, good strategies, and help from others.

Together with her students and collaborators, Dweck has shown the negative consequences of fixed-mindset beliefs for children’s persistence, learning, resilience, and ultimately their achievement. She has also shown how fixed-mindset beliefs are conveyed through common phrases like “You’re so smart” and through organizational cultures focused on “genius.” In groundbreaking field experiments, Dweck has demonstrated the power of a growth mindset to enhance learning, especially for struggling students. Further, she has explored fundamental questions about the malleability of human qualities to understand other diverse problems, including intergroup conflict and school bullying. Carol Dweck’s scholarship has reshaped social, developmental, personality, and educational psychology. Moreover, the rapid uptake of her work in education and elsewhere has improved programs and policies to the benefit of millions. A beloved mentor and collaborator, Dweck has challenged people to let go of the fears that hold them back and to see challenges as opportunities for learning and growth.

Dweck is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. She is a recipient of the APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award and the APS Mentor Award.