Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How your brain reacts to mistakes depends on your mindset

Date:
October 1, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
"Whether you think you can or think you can't -- you're right," said Henry Ford. A new study finds that people who think they can learn from their mistakes have a different brain reaction to mistakes than people who think intelligence is fixed.

A cap worn by subjects in a Michigan State University experiment picks up EEG signals at the scalp; the signals are then transmitted via optical cable to a computer where the data is stored for analysis. The experiment deals with people learning from mistakes.
Credit: G.L. Kohuth

"Whether you think you can or think you can't -- you're right," said Henry Ford. A new study, to be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that people who think they can learn from their mistakes have a different brain reaction to mistakes than people who think intelligence is fixed.

"One big difference between people who think intelligence is malleable and those who think intelligence is fixed is how they respond to mistakes," says Jason S. Moser, of Michigan State University, who collaborated on the new study with Hans S. Schroder, Carrie Heeter, Tim P. Moran, and Yu-Hao Lee. Studies have found that people who think intelligence is malleable say things like, "When the going gets tough, I put in more effort" or "If I make a mistake, I try to learn and figure it out." On the other hand, people who think that they can't get smarter will not take opportunities to learn from their mistakes. This can be a problem in school, for example; a student who thinks her intelligence is fixed will think it's not worth bothering to try harder after she fails a test.

For this study, Moser and his colleagues gave participants a task that is easy to make a mistake on. They were supposed to identify the middle letter of a five-letter series like "MMMMM" or "NNMNN." Sometimes the middle letter was the same as the other four, and sometimes it was different. "It's pretty simple, doing the same thing over and over, but the mind can't help it; it just kind of zones out from time to time," Moser says. That's when people make mistakes -- and they notice it immediately, and feel stupid.

While doing the task, the participant wore a cap on his or her head that records electrical activity in the brain. When someone makes a mistake, their brain makes two quick signals: an initial response that indicates something has gone awry -- Moser calls it the "'oh crap' response" -- and a second that indicates the person is consciously aware of the mistake and is trying to right the wrong. Both signals occur within a quarter of a second of the mistake. After the experiment, the researchers found out whether people believed they could learn from their mistakes or not.

People who think they can learn from their mistakes did better after making a mistake -- in other words, they successfully bounced back after an error. Their brains also reacted differently, producing a bigger second signal, the one that says "I see that I've made a mistake, so I should pay more attention" Moser says.

The research shows that these people are different on a fundamental level, Moser says. "This might help us understand why exactly the two types of individuals show different behaviors after mistakes." People who think they can learn from their mistakes have brains that are tuned to pay more attention to mistakes, he says. This research could help in training people to believe that they can work harder and learn more, by showing how their brain is reacting to mistakes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jason S. Moser, Hans S. Schroder, Carrie Heeter, Tim P. Moran, and Yu-Hao Lee. Mind your errors: Evidence for a neural mechanism linking growth mindset to adaptive post-error adjustments. Psychological Science, 2011

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "How your brain reacts to mistakes depends on your mindset." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110930153048.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, October 1). How your brain reacts to mistakes depends on your mindset. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110930153048.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "How your brain reacts to mistakes depends on your mindset." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110930153048.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins