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Scientific Evidence

The Evidence

These two different views about dementia map onto mindset theory (Dweck & Leggett, 1988), which holds that people differ in their implicit theories about the nature of human attributes. These implicit theories, or mindsets, shape people’s judgments, feelings, and behavioral responses in situations where such attributes matter (Dweck et al., 1995). Studies on different applications of mindset theory suggest that mindsets can have substantial effects on human functioning ranging from performance on memory tasks (Plaks & Chasteen, 2013), to mental health (Schroder et al., 2016), weight loss (Burnette et al., 2017), academic success (Ortiz Alvarado et al., 2019), and job performance (Zingoni & Corey, 2017). Moreover, previous studies have linked mindsets to affective well-being and life satisfaction (King, 2017), depression (Ford et al., 2018), and future psychological distress (Schroder et al., 2019). Specifically, holding a fixed mindset (believing that attributes are set and unchangeable) is generally more detrimental to well-being than holding a malleable mindset (believing that attributes can change and adapt; Dweck & Leggett, 1988van Tongeren & Burnette, 2018). For example, a fixed (compared with a malleable) mindset about emotions predicts lower levels of positive affect, higher levels of depression, and lower general well-being (arguably due to the impact of mindsets on emotion regulation self-efficacy; Tamir et al., 2007). Importantly, mindsets can be influenced or changed in such a way that they facilitate desirable outcomes (Donohoe et al., 2012). There is ample evidence showing that mindsets can be modified through well-designed interventions (Yeager et al., 2016).

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