Mind-set can affect the quality and longevity of personal relationships as well, through people's willingness—or unwillingness—to deal with difficulties. Those with a fixed mind-set are less likely than those with a growth mind-set to broach problems in their relationships and to try to solve them, according to a 2006 study I conducted with psychologist Lara Kammrath, now at Wake Forest University. After all, if you think that human personality traits are more or less fixed, relationship repair seems largely futile. Individuals who believe people can change and grow, however, are more confident that confronting concerns in their relationships will lead to resolutions.
Meyer and his colleagues hope that understanding switching costs and the light they shed on "executive control" may help to improve the design and engineering of equipment and human-computer interfaces for vehicle and aircraft operation, air traffic control, and many other activities using sophisticated technologies. Insights into how the brain "multitasks" lend themselves to a range of settings from the clinic, helping to diagnose and help brain-injured patients, to the halls of Congress, informing government and industrial regulations and standards.