In a 2018 study in Psychological Science, Paul O’Keefe (Yale-NUS), Carol Dweck (Stanford), and Gregory Walton (Stanford) discussed these two implicit theories of passion, fixed versus growth, and reported several experimental studies. They suggested how one thinks about passion has practical implications.
If a person views interests as fixed, then once interests are found:
- less likely other interests will be explored
- more likely to expect continuing motivation to be high
- less likely to anticipate difficulties or frustration in pursuit of passion
- “strong interest in one area does not preclude developing interests elsewhere”
- more likely to understand “development may sometimes be difficult”
- more likely to be maintain interest when facing frustration and difficulties
Like most psychological research, the participants in the studies were college students. The authors called for future research exploring their findings in “real-life settings” and among different cultures.
1. I find passion to be a very interesting subject and enjoyed this paper. I concur with the authors that more research is needed. Here are some of my thoughts:
- Can one have both fixed and growth mindsets about passion? Some passions may be innate, got to pursue, whereas other passions develop out of life experiences.
- Can we measure what one thinks about passion? There are different scales for different types of passionate engagement but is there a more global measure? Perhaps some people tend to find or develop passions whereas others never do.
- If people understand whether they have a fixed or growth mindset about passion, will that help them “find their passion”?
- What are the implications for counseling and coaching?
- Does having a passion lead to a better quality of life than not having a passion? Or vice versa?
3. So what is your passion? Your passions?
O’Keefe, P. A., Dweck, C. S., & Walton, G. M. (2018). Implicit theories of interest: Finding your passion or developing it. Psychological Science, 29(10), 1653-1664.
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© John Ballard, PhD, 2018. All rights reserved.
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