Your passion isn’t out there, waiting to be discovered. It’s not a mysterious force that will—when found—remove all obstacles from your path. In fact, psychologists argue in a new study that the pithy mantra “find your passion” may be a dangerous distraction.
In a study (pdf) by researchers from Stanford and Yale-NUS college in Singapore—a collaboration between Yale University and the National University of Singapore—soon to be published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers examined “implicit theories of interest.” Administering five tests, they measured the effects of fixed versus growth mindsets—belief in inherent interests as opposed to those that are developed—to determine how our convictions influence learning and resilience. “Are interests there all along, waiting to be revealed?” the researchers ask. “Or must a spark of interest be cultivated through investment and persistence?”
The answer to these questions, it turns out, hinges on our approach to interests. Based on the latest findings, people who have a fixed mindset—the almost mystical belief that passions are revealed to us magically—seem to be less curious and motivated than those with a growth mindset, who understand interests unfold as a process.
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