Entity versus Incremental Theories of Intelligence


An entity theorist sees a person’s skill or qualities as ingrained and unalterable. An incremental theorist believes that skills and qualities may be gained. While an entity theorist sees intelligence as fixed, an incremental theorist sees it as fluid.

The important takeaway is an entity theorist believes that success is due to a combination of luck and the capabilities one was born with whereas an incremental theorist believes that success is a combination of the skills that one has acquired through practice, natural capability, and luck.

Intelligence in Children Example

Art of Learning: “Children who associate success with hard work tend to have a ‘mastery-oriented response’ to challenging situations, while children who see themselves as plain ‘smart’ or ‘dumb’ have a learned helplessness orientation.”

Art of Learning: “Very smart kids with entity theories tend to be far more brittle when challenged than kids with learning theories who would be considered not quite as sharp. In fact, some of the brightest kids prove to be the most vulnerable to becoming helpless, because they feel the need to live up to and maintain a perfectionist image that is easily and inevitably shattered.”


The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin

‘The power of believe you can improve’ by Carol Dweck

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