Research on Grit and Self-Control Recognized in “Genius Grant”

Angela Duckworth
Credit: Angela DuckworthAngela Duckworth

Grit and self-control. These two personal qualities are at least as predictive of success in life than IQ or socioeconomic advantage, according toresearch conducted by Angela Duckworth, associate professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, a John Templeton Foundation grantee, and now a 2013 MacArthur Fellow—the award also known as a “genius grant.”

Grit is the ability to sustain interest and effort in long-term goals. Self-control is the ability to tolerate difficulties—that is, the ability to regulate the many distractions that an individual may face over the course of the day, be they in terms of behavior, emotion, or attention.

With her colleagues, Duckworth has devised ways to measure these crucial qualities in adults and children. Those measures have been shown to be good predictors of success in a wide range of situations, from cadets attending the US Military Academy at West Point, to pupils at a high school in Chicago. Duckworth’s research is now focusing on interventions that may help children and others to cultivate grit and self-control. This will offer alternatives to the exclusive emphasis on cognitive ability that tends to dominate current American education policy.

Click here to learn more about Duckworth and her work.