Can Personality be Changed? Carol Dweck’s and Bob Sutton’s take on it.

Carol Dweck article explains how people’s personality can change by changing beliefs.  She describes beliefs as things that are “in-between” people’s personality.

I think that people’s preferences and personality-as a broad term-do not change significantly through time.  I have taken personality tests such as Emergenetics and MBTI.  What they taught me in Emergenetics was that if you take the same test after a while you might get slightly different result but the end picture looks similar.  My take on that is that some people are more flexible than others.

Carol Dweck argues that people with malleable theory are more open to learn and are more willing to confront challenges and stick to difficult tasks.  She argues that if people feel safe in an environment that accepts all individuals’ results and evaluates them by how much effort they show to improve them, they perform better.  People who anxiously expect negative responses become more fragile and do not perform as well.

Bob Sutton also seems to be agreeable with Carol dweck in thinking that people who already think they are perfect are less likely to learn new things than people who believe they can be better.  I don’t argue with neither Ms. Dweck or Mr. Sutton; but as I mentioned above, I think influencing somebody and changing their belief very much depends on how flexible an individual is.  I do believe that we can change people’s belief in some extend but I’m not sure how you teach a person to be more flexible and less stubborn in considering other beliefs and possibilities.

To comment on Bob Sutton’s take on Carol Dweck’s take, I think there are 4 types of people in a working environment:

-Those who are “smart” and know they are smart

-Those who are not “smart” and think they are smart

-Those who are “smart” but don’t know they are smart

-Those who are not “smart” and know they are not smart

Personally, the only group that I might have a difficult time working is the second group.  I think each group can bring value to an organization and I think a manager’s approach should be different with each group.  You want to have confident people in your group and you can set high goals for them to ensure they would still improve.  Because there is room for improvement for everybody.    Then there are people in the third group who are intelligent but they don’t show enough confidence.  Those are probably the most valuable members as they are intelligent enough to have some input and because they are most open to new ideas.  It’s a manager’s responsibility to provide them with those new ideas and help them be more confident.   As the fourth group, they should be the easiest  to manage as they will always be open to learn and improve.

The main challenge as mentioned in my previous post is “how to teach smart people to learn”.  I think it is a manager’s responsibility to categorize people and help them improve in an environment they feel comfortable in.  Not only this would help the individuals to improve, it would also be a great motivational tool when you treat people almost the way they want to be treated while keeping their potential abilities in mind.


~ by aliahmadian on February 1, 2010.

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