Growth mindsets are increasingly used to promote learning, development, and health. The increased popularity resulted in scrutiny and disputes about utility. The current work reviews a perspective critical to the debate. Namely, we focus on emerging research that examines both the favorable and potentially adverse consequences of growth mindset messaging in stigma-relevant contexts. This double-edge sword model merges the mindset perspective with attribution theory and the psychological essentialism literature. In stigmatizing contexts and in isolation, growth mindsets can indirectly predict lesspositive outcomes, via personal responsibility for the problem, but more positive outcomes, via expectations for the potential to manage conditions in the future. Programmatic research illustrates how to tailor growth mindset messages and interventions, to avoid the potential costs of blame, yet keep the benefits of self-efficacy and weakened essentialism.

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Copyright © 2020 Sage Publishing. This article first appeared in Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, October 2020.

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