Believing anxiety can change is a predictor of wellbeing, in part, because such beliefs – known as growth mindsets – predict weaker threat appraisals, which in turn improves psychological functioning. However, feeling a sense of personal threat facilitates social activism, and thus growth mindsets may undermine such action. Across six studies (N = 1761), including cross-sectional and experimental approaches (3 pre-registered), growth mindsets predict flourishing, including wellbeing, resilience, and grit. We find that growth mindsets indirectly predict reduced activism against social threats through reduced threat appraisals, which are critical motivators of activism. The total effect linking growth mindsets to activism was not robust. Overall, Bayesian meta-analytic summary effects reveal that growth mindsets of anxiety are critical components of psychological flourishing, broadly defined. Mindsets are also consistently linked to weakened threat appraisals across a variety of social threats from gun violence to natural disasters. Although helpful for resilience, these dampened threat appraisals impair social action.

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Copyright © 2022 Informa UK Limited. This article first appeared in The Journal of Positive Psychology, December 2021.

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