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If we try to imagine how our personality will look in several years, we lean toward views such as: “Level-headedness and clear focus will still be part and parcel of who I am, and I’ll probably have fewer self-doubts.” If you think you can change — better yet, if you think you WILL change — then you’ll be more eager to set about doing those things which help bring about the change you seek.
There remains debate about how much of personality is genetically predetermined versus how much is formed and shaped by interaction with the environment, but unlike IQ which is hard to change at all over the long-term with intensive intervention, personality is “spongier” and less resistant to active efforts to change it.People’s own theories about who they are influence how they behave.One’s self-image can therefore easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy.Overall, we tend to view our character as more static than it is, presumably because this assessment offers security and direction.We want to recognize our particular traits and preferences so that we can act accordingly.But even people who have a rigid sense of self are not fixed in all aspects of their personality.
According to psychologist Andreas Steimer of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, even when people describe their strengths as completely stable, they tend to believe that they will outgrow their weaknesses sooner or later.
This is about adopting a mentality that encourages practice, and people will do better at any task or skill if they have practiced it.
Not everyone will achieve the heights of facility with the skill they practice, but they will get better than not doing anything at all.
On the other hand, if we view a trait such as IQ or willpower as largely unchangeable and inherent, we will do little to improve it.
Note that this isn’t social priming (which deserves more study but to date hasn’t been very replicable).
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