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Fixed mindset in relation to age

Hello everyone,

We recently talked about growth mindset and fixed mindset. Here is an example that I encountered today:


At the emergency, a 1 year old patient comes because she woke up 2 nights in a row crying. The nurse tells me the mother thinks these are sleep terrors (a form of nightmare) and she agrees with the mother. I say she's a bit too young for this (4 years to 12 years old). She might have belly ache or something else.

The nurse (nice person) erupts to her colleagues who were listening (her status is at stake):

Nurse: they are not gods!!! (pointing at me, then takes her white hair in her fingers to show them): this is experience!!

I thank her and go see the patient, she has a viral infection in the throat.

I tell the nurse and show her on a valid medical source on the Internet that the typical age for sleep terrors is 4 to 12. She tells me:

Nurse: it's been 25 years I'm doing this. And my child of 1 year old had sleep terrors.

I help her save face by insisting on the typical (true, there are variations, but it is still very unlikely that a 1 year old has it).

She accept it and moves on. We end up on a cordial note. There were no tensions at all between her and me the whole episode.


This showed me explicitly what I was thinking for a long time:

Some nurses think they know more than some young doctors because they have a lot of experience.

By generalizing:

Some professionals think they know more than less experienced professionals because they have a lot of experience.

By generalizing more:

Some experienced people think they know more than less experienced people because they have a lot of experience.

The key word here is "think". People are not interested about facts. It is ego based: either you are right or I am right.

So there is a fixed mindset bias: "I know Y because I spent X years doing this"

This is a dangerous mindset as it is not conducive to learning.

I met seasoned professionals who were thinking: "I learn every day something new. I might be wrong. Let's see what are the facts and think about it together".

Here it was an ego-based reaction as she could not imagine she was wrong. She did not even consider the basic fact: our work is about evaluating the patient. You can say that you think that what the patient has before evaluating her. You don't know yet.

So here there was several cognitive biases here that are good examples of how a fixed mindset can prevent learning and make us commit cognitive errors.


Lucio Buffalmano, Kavalier and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoKavalierBelleaderoffun

Yeah, the fixed mindset compounded the issue that started with a lack of logic and rational thinking.


  1. Jump to conclusions
  2. Look for confirmation (bias)
  3. Grow entrenched in your (likely false) initial assumption
  4. Defend your initial assumption out of ego and/or power
    1. If necessary, attack others who disagree or urge caution
    2. If necessary, prescribe the wrong cure and medication


John Freeman, Bel and underdogexceptional have reacted to this post.
John FreemanBelunderdogexceptional
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Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on September 24, 2022, 4:24 pm

Yeah, the fixed mindset compounded the issue that started with a lack of logic and rational thinking.

Thanks for your answer! I totally agree with your analysis.


From what I can observe here (being a beginner at power and social dynamics), there is an issue at play here which John and Lucio fantastically elaborated on.

  1. The lady is coming from a position of having more experience which apparently equates to her diagnosis being correct and the younger nurses diagnoses being incorrect.

My thoughts: There are many old timers who come from an era of outdated knowledge and information, and there is a new crowd who have updated knowledge/science and methodologies (I am not directly saying this is the case for this scenario, just an observation of mine in life and different fields in general).

The new crowd who are younger and have received different education and learning with updated scientific materials criticize the older generation and their perceived "stubborn" and "outdated" ways as being ineffective and consequentially they are being framed as poor teachers because of this. This is a phenomenon I can apply to the fitness community and methods of training in alot of ways as I'm familiar with this.

I have two questions here that can be applied to Johns scenario too as this situation happens alot.

  1. If a scenario happens in real life in a private 1-1 setting where you are interacting with another person in your particular field who is also a "teacher" or "expert" on a matter per se, but this person is older than you (for example, I am 25, and they are 40), what do you do when this person is giving poor knowledge and information and going into a "teaching frame" on you like a "Judge frame" trying to "show you the ropes" per se?

First of all, I would definitely not accept the outdated info and I would not agree. However, I am wondering and this is a moral question of mine, should I even try to collaborate and have a friendly vibe if the person keeps on insisting because obviously people who have done something longer obviously don't like being disagreed with, especially with a newer person. Something in me feels "wrong" to a degree for disagreeing with them, only a little bit, kind of like It's disrespectful because they have been doing this for a longer time, even though they are clearly wrong.

2) Is there a way to reject their teaching and judge frame, stand on your correct info and still be collaborative?

Maybe both questions can be answered in one question, and the example above is for someone who is blatantly giving outdated, weak and disempowering information. If someone has more experience and is talking sense, then obviously in a 1-1 setting I would listen to them and learn from them, but in this scenario the person is more experienced and giving wrong info.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano
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