Listen: Blackhawks at Columbus – also on AM 1000

Is finding your passion bad advice? Some psychologists present new research to suggest otherwise

Paul O'Keefe, Assistant Professor of Psychology

A recent article says your passion isn’t out there waiting to be discovered because it does not stop future obstacles. Assistant Professor of Psychology, Paul O’ Keefe at Yale National University of Singapore, along with other two psychologists from Stanford University–Carol Dweck and Gregory M. Walton found new research to suggest finding your passion may have a few twists.

O’ Keefe has been in Singapore about 4 years and thinks some mantras we hear suggest that passion is inherent and needs to be revealed, or described as a fixed theory of interest. If people believe this, there is already an established interest and people disregard exploring other areas. The other theory in this equation growth theory. O’ Keefe describes this second theory as interests that start as a spark or curiosity, but grows over time and develops.

He shares that these theories stem from a long history of research about people, which may include factors like intelligence or personality and whether these qualities are subject to change over time or are fixed. Then, that research is applied to how people operate and what to expect from interests.

As a professor, O’Keefe says his research indicates that a growth mindset may help college students better engage in interests while also developing new interests. When challenges arise, it is easier for growth theory people to work through challenges. “One of the very important things we found in this paper is if you believed interests are fixed, you believe they are pre formed interests. When these interests are discovered, their research revealed 100 percent true that people think pursuing those interests and passions will come easily.” From the study, growth theorists expected difficulties and fixed theorists were frustrated within 7 minutes.

Other real world examples are applying it to true love or playing instruments.

For more information on O’Keefe’s work, his research in the article can be found here.