Motivation and emotion/Book/2022/Grit and achievement

Grit and achievement:
How does grit affect achievement?


Think of times throughout your life when you have persisted despite challenges because of your desire to accomplish your long-term goals. Were you driven by your passion and ability to persevere? Duckworth et al. (2007) propose that this trait is best conceptualised as grit: ongoing perseverance and passion for long-term goals, created through consistent interests and persevered effort over time.

Case study example: Compare and contrast two children who have grown up in similar situations, but one has persisted when presented with challenges in a variety of areas (sporting as children, academic, professional, personal...) where the other has not. Find real-world, evidence based examples. (Ensure this case study is not unfairly stigmatising or downplays the importance of other factors such as SES etc.)

Grit can help us understand why some people persist when others do not, and how that can lead to achievement in a variety of domains.

  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Professional Achievement
  • Hobbies and Personal Interests

However, grit is also a contested topic, and critics of the theory argue that many of the benefits of grit are attributable to the trait of conscientiousness (Jachimowicz et al., 2018). It is therefore essential to examine grit while considering the other influential traits that contribute to the achievements of gritty people.

Focus questions:

  • How does grit motivate people to achieve their goals?
  • In what areas does grit act as a predictor of achievement?
  • What are other influential traits that may be contributing to the achievements of gritty people?

What is Grit?Edit

  • Duckworth et al. (2007) propose it is a personality trait characterised by perseverance and passion towards long-term goals, characterised by consistency of interest and perseverance of effort over time.
  • Deliberate practice, sustained task retention and persistance (Jachimowitz et al., 2018)
  • How does it develop? How does it motivate people to achieve their goals?
    • Grit as a predictor vs grit as an outcome - explore this

Test yourself!Edit

Follow this link to test yourself on Angela Duckworth's grit scale.

Health and WellbeingEdit

  • Consistent behaviours contributing to improved long-term health and wellbeing outcomes
    • Elaborate on these
      Figure 1
  • Longer marriages for men (Eskreis-Winkler, Shulman, Beal et al., 2014)
  • Higher life expectancy (Kim & Lee, 2015)

  Case Study: Ron Stuart, 89, has been an active person his whole life. He has run every day since his childhood and continues to exercise for an hour every day. He remains passionate and excited about this activity, which has contributed to his health. (Figure 1)

Professional AchievementEdit


  • Longitudinal studies have found that high grit scores are positively correlated with higher cumulative GPAs, and negatively correlated to course failure (Hwang et al., 2018; Pate et al., 2017).
    • These findings have been replicated in university settings in Eastern and Western cultural contexts, showing cross-cultural validity (Chen et al., 2018).
    • Critiques of the grit model argue that variance in academic success is solely attributable perseverance of effort (Credé et al., 2016).
  • Gritty students are more likely to successfully overcome setbacks and persevere towards clearly identified long-term goals, powered by maintaining positive mindsets and viewing success as a personal responsibility (Kannangara et al., 2018).
    • Saunders-Scott et al. (2018) found that students with higher grit scores were more likely to complete their first year of university.  
    • Grittier students set more performance-oriented goals while less gritty students tend to be more disinterested in their studies and exhibit avoidance behaviours (Alhadabi & Karpinski, 2020)


  • Grit is a predictor of professional success rather than an outcome (Fernández-Martín et al., 2020)
  • Higher labor stability and professional efficacy (Fernández-Martín et al., 2020)

Hobbies and Personal InterestsEdit


  • Allows people to remain focused on long-term success outcomes, specifically for those with mastery achievement approaches (Moles et al., 2017)
  • Grit is a better predictor for expert sport development than conscientiousness and self control (Tedesqui & Young, 2018)


Interactive section: insert quiz here:

  • Importance of passion - How does grit moderate beyond passion?
  • What is the importance of persevering for hobbies?


  • Highly correlated with Big 5 personality trait conscientiousness (Duckworth et al., 2007)
  • Research has not consistently found that grit is a predictor for success beyond other factors however this may be due to literature focusing on the importance of perseverance and not passion (Jachimowicz et al., 2018)
  • Duckworth et al. (2007) noted that grit tends to account for 4% of the variance in success outcomes - small to medium sized effect.


  • Grit motivates people to achieve their goals through sustained perseverance and passion
  • There is controversy: it may not be a predictor for success beyond other factors and only accounts for a small to medium sized effect
  • Despite this, cultivating grit can allow people to achieve success in a variety of domains including their wellbeing, jobs and hobbies.

See alsoEdit


Alhadabi, A., & Karpinski, A. C. (2020). Grit, self-efficacy, achievement orientation goals, and academic performance in university students. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 25(1), 519-535.

Chen, C., Ye, S., & Hangen, E. (2018). Predicting achievement goals in the east and west: The role of grit among american and chinese university students. Educational Psychology (Dorchester-on-Thames), 38(6), 820-837.

Credé, M., Tynan, M. C., & Harms, P. D. (2017). Much ado about grit: A meta-analytic synthesis of the grit literature. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 113(3), 492-511.

Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087-1101.

Fernández Martín, F. D., Arco Tirado, J. L., & Hervás Torres, M. (2020). Grit as a predictor and outcome of educational, professional, and personal success: a systematic review. Psicología Educativa, 26(2), 163-173.

Hwang, M. H., Lim, H. J., & Ha, H. S. (2018). Effects of grit on the academic success of adult female students at korean open university. Psychological Reports, 121(4), 705-725.

Kannangara, C. S., Allen, R. E., Waugh, G., Nahar, N., Noor Khan, S. Z., Rogerson, S., & Carson, J. (2018). All that glitters is not grit: Three studies of grit in university students. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, Article 1539.

Jachimowicz, J. M., Wihler, A., Bailey, E. R., & Galinsky, A. D. (2018). Why grit requires perseverance and passion to positively predict performance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(40), 9980-9985.

External linksEdit

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