School of Education


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Fred Volk


Growth Mindset, Fixed Mindset, Grit, Cinematherapy, Counselor Education, Finding Nemo




Mindset is defined as an individual’s view of intelligence or ability. Mindset research began in the 1970s at Stanford with Carol S. Dweck, who coined the terms “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset.” A fixed mindset believes intelligence and abilities are limited and static. Each individual has a certain quantity, and no amount of risk-taking, effort, or perseverance will increase the amount of intelligence currently possessed. A growth mindset sees intelligence as something that can grow, transform, and change. Individuals with growth mindsets believe hard work pays off and are eager to learn new ideas, concepts, and theories to move forward in their learning journeys. Grit is defined by Angela Duckworth as passion and perseverance for long-term goals and closely aligns with the concept of a growth mindset. Mindset and grit are highlighted by academic and classroom challenges and can be identified in individuals as early as elementary school. The way students respond to challenges and failure significantly impacts their development. While there are assessments to help determine mindset and grit, creative-arts therapies may also be able to help identify them. Cinematherapy is a target intervention often used in academic and clinical settings to teach complex concepts and theories. This study examined the relationship between mindset/grit and character identification, using Disney’s Finding Nemo. In other words, does a growth mindset relate to the growth minded characters, while a fixed mindset relates to the fixed minded characters? The study also used an independent between-groups experimental design to determine if the order of exposure to video case vignettes, using Disney’s Finding Nemo, made a difference in a participant’s level of identification with mindset/grit. It was hypothesized that exposure to the video case vignettes, prior to taking the mindset/grit assessments would influence responses toward identification with growth mindset characters. The results showed that a significant relationship existed between mindset and grit, but no significant correlations existed with the film characters of Nemo, Dory, Crush, or Marlin. There were significant positive correlations between the growth-minded characters of Dory and Crush, and negative relationships between Marlin and Dory, Marlin and Crush, and Marlin and Nemo. This was consistent with our study’s hypothesis since Marlin was the only character holding a fixed mindset, and the others, a growth mindset. Exposure to the video case vignettes did promote identification with the growth-minded characters of Dory and Crush and decreased identification with the fixed-minded character of Marlin. Implications, applications, limitations, and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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