Are people born smart or do they acquire intelligence through hard work and perseverance? It’s a tough question, but a recent study has found that giving people the impression that the latter is true can help them strive towards and achieve success.
Researchers at Michigan State University recently studied brain responses to various messages. Participants were separated into two groups, with one group reading an article which suggested that intelligence had nothing to do with “genetic structure”.
Participants were then asked to complete a straightforward test while their brain activity was carefully monitored. The finding: the group that read the article about intelligence being acquired rather than available at birth showed more efficient brain responses when completing the test.
The researchers behind the study weren’t trying to weigh in on the “nature versus nurture” debate, but do believe it could help teachers understand how their students react to various messages.
“These subtle messages seem to have a big impact, and now we can see they have an immediate impact on how the brain handles information about performance,” noted Hans Schroder, a lead investigator in the Michigan State University study.
“Giving people messages that encourage learning and motivation may promote more efficient performance … In contrast, telling people that intelligence is genetically fixed may inadvertently hamper learning.”
The Michigan State University study can be found in the journal Biological Psychology. But it’s not the first study of its kind: previously, Stanford University researchers found that children who received positive responses to their efforts performed better in future challenges.