Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck‘s work is research-based and nuanced, but can be boiled down to a simple (and profound) schema.
There are two mindsets: fixed and growth.
People who primarily have a fixed mindset believe that intelligence, talents and personality are fixed and innate. For people who have a growth mindset, intelligence, talents and personality can be worked on, improved and made better.
The implications of this schema are profound for education. For example, being mindful of these fixed/growth mindset tendencies in students should influence the way we give feedback. (Positive feedback about a student’s innate intelligence is less helpful then praise about the student’s effort and hard work.)
Click on the image below to see Dr. Dweck’s Keynote Address at the 2009 Scottish Learning Festival:
I have been reading Mindset. It is quite good.