Many people believe that intelligence is a fixed trait, something that you are born with and cannot change. This misconception is harmful and often leads people to give up on their intellectual pursuits. However, research has shown that intelligence is not as fixed as many people believe it to be.

Breaking the Misconception

The idea of fixed intelligence is deeply rooted in our culture. Many people believe that a person’s intelligence is determined by their genes, and that there is little that can be done to improve it. This belief is not only inaccurate but it can also be harmful.


Studies have shown that intelligence is not fixed, and it can be developed through deliberate practice. Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University, has conducted extensive research on this topic. She has found that people who believe in a “fixed mindset” are less likely to try new things or take risks. This is because they believe that their abilities are set in stone, and they are afraid of failure.

On the other hand, people with a “growth mindset” believe that their abilities can be improved through effort and hard work. They are more likely to take on challenges and embrace failure as an opportunity to learn. Dweck’s research has shown that people with a growth mindset are more likely to succeed in school, work, and other areas of life.

Developing Intelligence

So how can you develop your intelligence? The key is deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is a type of practice that is focused, purposeful, and repetitive. It involves pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and working on your weaknesses.

One way to develop your intelligence is to learn new things. Take a class, read a book, or listen to a podcast on a topic that interests you. Another way is to challenge yourself in areas where you feel weak. For example, if you struggle with math, practice math problems until you become more comfortable with the subject.

It’s also important to embrace failure. Failure is a natural part of the learning process, and it provides opportunities for growth. When you fail, take the time to analyze what went wrong and make adjustments for the next time.

The Importance of Persistence

Developing your intelligence takes time and persistence. It’s not something that will happen overnight, and it’s important to remain committed to the process.

In her book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” psychologist Angela Duckworth emphasizes the importance of grit in achieving success. Grit refers to the ability to persevere through difficult times. It involves having a long-term goal and working tirelessly to achieve it, even in the face of obstacles and setbacks.

Duckworth’s research has shown that grit is a better predictor of success than IQ or talent. People who are gritty are more likely to achieve their goals, even when they face adversity.


In conclusion, the misconception that intelligence is fixed intelligence is not only inaccurate, but it can also be harmful. It’s important to recognize that intelligence can be developed through deliberate practice and persistence. By embracing a growth mindset, challenging ourselves, and embracing failure, we can unlock our full potential and achieve greater success in all areas of life.

Further reading

By Peter

4 thoughts on “Don’t Believe the Misconception: Intelligence is not Fixed”
  1. It’s fascinating to learn about the concept of “fixed mindset” versus “growth mindset” and how it affects our intellectual pursuits. In your opinion, which mindset do you think is more beneficial in achieving success – fixed or growth mindset?

  2. I disagree with the notion that intelligence is a fixed trait and that people cannot improve their intellectual abilities. It is important to recognize that research has shown that intelligence can be developed through deliberate practice and embracing a growth mindset. However, the article could have further elaborated on the types of deliberate practice that can improve intelligence, such as practicing critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making skills. Additionally, it is crucial to understand that intelligence is not the only predictor of success and that character traits such as grit and perseverance play a significant role in achieving goals.

    1. Thank you for sharing your perspective on the development of intelligence. I appreciate your insight on the importance of deliberate practice and the influence of character traits on achieving success.

  3. According to the article mentioned in the comment, individuals can develop their intelligence by engaging in deliberate practice, which involves focusing on a particular skill or knowledge area and consistently working to improve it through dedicated and structured practice. This type of practice should involve feedback, goal-setting, and a willingness to push beyond one’s current level of ability.

    One additional piece of information that may be useful is that deliberate practice has been shown to have a positive impact on a wide range of abilities, including language learning, musical performance, and athletic performance.

    For more information on deliberate practice and its role in developing intelligence, I would suggest visiting the following webpage:

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