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The Person You Mean to Be

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The Person You Mean to Be

How Good People Fight Bias


15 min read
9 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Make the world a better place by recognizing your blind spots.

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Most people want to be good people. Yet often, being seen as a good person can become more important than actually being a good person. When this happens, your efforts to make a positive difference in the world can backfire. At a time when inclusion and diversity have become mainstream topics, social psychologist Dolly Chugh demonstrates how uncovering your hidden motives and adopting a growth mindset will help you to act as a builder, rather than just a believer, in the fight against discrimination and inequality.


You need a growth mindset to thrive in situations that threaten your identity.

Research shows that the way you see yourself – your identity – directs your actions more than any particular set of values. Consequently, your brain considers any behavior that contradicts your sense of identity as a self-threat, and tries to find ways to dismiss, ignore or justify it. This is particularly true if you consider yourself to be a “good” person. To see yourself more clearly, think of yourself as someone who “is trying to be better” instead. This allows you to move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, which opens you up to learning.

If you have a fixed mindset, you’ll perceive criticism, anger or push-back as a threat. Your brain will switch immediately into defensive mode and dismiss criticism: You don’t learn. In contrast, if you have a growth mindset, you are likely to embrace information that will help you understand the reasons that might have caused the criticism or anger. Notably, situations where psychological safety is low – where people feel they will face shame or punishment for expressing innovative...

About the Author

Dolly Chugh is an award-winning social psychologist and associate professor of management and organization at the Stern School of Business at New York University.

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