Hamlet and the Power of Beliefs to Shape Reality | Literally Psyched, Scientific American Blog Network

Mindsets matter! How you see yourself changes yourself and others.

“Whilst part of what we perceive comes through our senses from the objects around us, another part (and it may be the larger part) always comes out of our own head.”

What’s more, our beliefs and construals can actually alter our reality. What we believe can, quite literally, be what becomes true. As an example, take intelligence, something that many people believe to be a genetically predetermined entity. While intelligence may indeed have a large genetic component, that is far from all it is.

In a recent study, a group of psychologists decided to see if this differential reaction is simply behavioral, or if it actually goes deeper, to the level of brain performance. The researchers measured response-locked event-related potentials (ERPs)—basically, electric neural signals that result from either an internal or external event—in the brains of college students as they took part in a simple flanker task. The student were shown a string of five letters and asked to quickly identify the middle letter. The letters could be congruent—for instance, MMMMM—or, they might be incongruent—for example, MMNMM.

First, those who had an incremental mindset (i.e., believed that intelligence was fluid) performed better following error trials that those who had an entity mindset (i.e., believed intelligence was fixed). Moreover, as that incremental mindset increased—in other words, the more they believed in an incremental theory of intelligence—positivity ERPs on error trials as opposed to correct trials increased as well. And, the larger the error positivity amplitude on error trials, the more accurate the post-error performance.

via Hamlet and the Power of Beliefs to Shape Reality | Literally Psyched, Scientific American Blog Network.

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