Studies have found an interesting predictor of whose brains paid more attention, and whose brains shut down, in the face of a mistake:
1. People who think that intelligence is malleable — that we get really good at something by dedicated practicing, not innate brilliance — pay more attention to mistakes. People who think that intelligence is fixed — you’re either good at something or you’re not – pay less attention to, and are less likely to learn from, mistakes.
2. Doctors who were most experienced were least likely to pay attention to and learn from mistakes, and more likely to show a confirmation bias. They trusted their judgment. Had the simulation been real, this would have had disastrous consequence for their patients. Because they didn’t learn from errors, the most experienced doctors ended up using the wrong criteria to make prescription choices.
The lesson of these studies? When you make a mistake or receive critical feedback, don’t panic. Think of it as an opportunity for learning, and remember that the process of “failing” — when you’re willing to pay attention — is often what leads to the greatest successes.