Mindsets, mental health and opportunities for intervention

30-01-2018

This month’s theme is all about mindsets. In the previous blogs, Anouk and Babet explained what mindsets are and that they are very important for following through with your resolutions and changing your behaviour. Why is that? In this blog, I will try to answer this question and tell you more about how different mindsets are related to one’s (mental) well-being and whether or not mindsets can be changed.

First, why are mindsets related to following through with resolutions and changing one’s behaviour? Mindsets can be seen as a particular set of beliefs that have a motivational impact. Depending on your mindset, you will have different goals that you pursue, and the way in which you pursue them will be different depending on your mindset. Mindsets have an influence on how you act in the real world; will you select a challenge or avoid it, are you persistent when things become tough or do you withdraw from the task (see Babet’s blog about a famous experiment from Carol Dweck that showed these behavioural differences depending on one’s mindset). Having a growth mindset and believing that you can change will eventually pave the path to change itself.

Mindsets are beliefs about the malleability of personal attributes. These attributes can be about virtually every personal characteristic (frequently researched mindsets are about intelligence, personality, and emotions). As I mentioned earlier, the mindsets or beliefs you hold have an effect on your behaviour and the goals you pursue, but they also have an important effect on your judgements and evaluations of the world around you. Therefore, it is not unlikely that specific mindsets are related to one’s (mental) well-being, and that in turn one’s (mental) well-being is related to the beliefs you have. Research has indeed shown a bi-directional link between mindsets and (mental) well-being, with people holding a growth mindset (about e.g. personality, emotions, intelligence) reporting less mental health problems and higher well-being and vice versa.

Given the positive outcomes of having a growth mindset, several researchers have set up small interventions to change people’s mindsets by, for instance, using short film-clips, readings, or lectures. Here at GEMH lab we try to unravel the fascinating role of mindsets by investigating how mindsets relate to different playstyles, and how we can use games to assess and change one’s mindset.


References:

Dweck, C. S. (2017). From needs to goals and representations: Foundations for a unified theory of motivation, personality, and development. Psychological review, 124(6), 689.

Romero, C., Master, A., Paunesku, D., Dweck, C. S., & Gross, J. J. (2014). Academic and emotional functioning in middle school: the role of implicit theories. Emotion, 14(2), 227.

Schleider, J. L., & Weisz, J. R. (2016). Mental Health and Implicit Theories of Thoughts, Feelings, and Behavior in Early Adolescents: Are Girls at Greater Risk?. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 35(2), 130-151.

Schleider, J. L., & Weisz, J. R. (2016). Implicit theories relate to youth psychopathology, but how? A longitudinal test of two predictive models. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 47(4), 603-617.

Tamir, M., John, O. P., Srivastava, S., & Gross, J. J. (2007). Implicit theories of emotion: Affective and social outcomes across a major life transition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(4), 731.

Yeager, D. S., & Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindsets that promote resilience: When students believe that personal characteristics can be developed. Educational psychologist, 47(4), 302-314.

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PhD-candidate interested in how and why applied games for mental health work.

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