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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great idea BUT very poor and very vague argumentations, 10 April 2011
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This review is from: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Paperback)
The main message is excellent. The fact that a growth mindset can offer more benefits when compared to the fixed mindset is great to know and to apply.


This book has overall a very weak argumentation and very shallow reasoning to get the message across. This book is clearly written for a bigger public but if her research has the same thinking errors I am wondering if I am reading the right book.

The author uses "argumentation by examples". Tons of examples are actually given to get the point across. Sadly the same logic can be used to give counter arguments for each example given. Just providing many examples is not a valid way to make a strong case, especially as the author selects examples that fits best her own theory. You can prove almost anything with that type of logic, but along as the book sells I guess...

Some examples of the weak argumentations used:

Tiger Woods gets classified under the growth mindset and therefore he is "gooood" and we only read on the success stories of Tiger Woods. As the book was released in 2006 we know by now that Tiger Woods had during his success years also a different aspect of his personality ongoing. This detail was illustrated in the years after, resulting in a messy divorce. Oops the growth-mindset theory for Tiger Woods might be not that excellent fit anymore.

John McEnroe on the other hand gets classified under the fixed mindset and therefore he is "baaaaad". The author gives many examples explaining his fixed mindset attitude but she forgets to mention that John McEnroe might have been juiced up with steroids at the time (Ref McEnroe's own statements). And yes these steroids made him act with more "character" during competition. Oops there goes the fixed mindset theory for John McEnroe also.

Sadly this sort of examples-argumentation goes on and on.

Perhaps the best case is illustrated on page 174 (paperback edition - 2008). The author writes "Parents and teachers who send fixed-mindset messages are like France, and parents and teachers who send growth-mindset messages are like Italy". The author got this insight while eating in a restaurant in Italy. I quote "When we got there and found a little family restaurant, tears started streaming down my face. I felt so nurtured. I said to David, 'You know, in France, when they're nice to you, you feel like you've passed a test. But in Italy, there is no test'". Based the information collected during a dinner in a restaurant and a short stay in France, it is clear for the author that France (yes the whole nation) has a fixed mindset and that Italy (yep again that whole country again) has a growth mindset. How more shallow can you go? And nope this was not given as an illustration.

Look if you write first that the growth-mindset makes you step away from judging and biased fixed opinions I suggest the author takes her own medicine. Judging a whole nation and labeling it with "growth or fixed mindset" is a very poor reasoning skill. And I am not even French!

The same style of examples and argumentation are given for relationships, business, sport, parents, teachers...The growth mindset gets used here as THE golden standard such it can explain all which is a pity. If we have to extrapolate the same reasoning skills shown here to the actually research for this book we should be very worried.

So is it worthwhile to read this book?...NO

Is it worthwhile to know about the main idea?....yes very. But there are faster ways to get to the idea without reading this book.

1 The mindsets
2 Inside the mindsets
3 The truth about ability and accomplishment
4 Sport: The mindset of a champion
5 Business: Mindset and Leadership
6 Relationships: Mindsets in love (or not)
7 Parents, teachers, and coaches: Where do mindsets come from?
8 Changing mindsets
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