The article was last updated by Vanessa Patel on January 30, 2024.

Grit, a term often associated with perseverance and passion, has become a popular topic in the field of psychology. In this article, we will explore the history of grit in psychology, the different definitions of grit, and the characteristics that make up this trait.

We will also discuss how grit is measured and the benefits of having grit, including success in achieving goals and improved mental health. We will delve into how grit can be developed, offering practical tips for cultivating this important quality. Whether you’re looking to enhance your own grit or simply want to better understand this concept, this article aims to provide a comprehensive and insightful exploration of grit from a psychological perspective.

What Is Grit?

Grit, a term popularized by psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth, refers to the combination of passion and perseverance towards long-term goals.

This unique blend of qualities enables individuals to maintain focus and determination in the face of challenges and setbacks.

Passion fuels the initial spark, igniting the drive to pursue ambitious objectives, while perseverance sustains the effort and commitment required for achieving those goals over an extended period.

Moreover, grit is closely linked to characteristics such as intelligence, resilience, and a growth mindset.

It goes beyond mere talent or intelligence; it involves the resilient spirit to persist and learn from failures.

Individuals with high levels of grit exhibit a remarkable ability to adapt to changing circumstances, bounce back from adversity, and continuously seek opportunities for personal and professional growth.

The History of Grit in Psychology

The concept of grit has a rich history in psychology, with influences from the work of pioneering psychologists and the groundbreaking research of American psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth.

Developed in the late 20th century, the concept of grit has its roots in the works of influential psychologists such as William James and Alfred Binet. They highlighted the importance of perseverance and resilience in achieving success.

Over the years, researchers have delved into the characteristics that define grit, leading to the development of various theories and measurement scales. Angela Lee Duckworth’s work, particularly her influential TED Talk and subsequent best-selling book, ‘Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,’ brought the concept to the forefront of popular psychology.

Her research on grit has been pivotal in emphasizing the role of non-cognitive traits in success, reshaping the way we perceive achievement and perseverance. Duckworth’s studies have also influenced educational practices and organizational strategies, sparking discussions on fostering grit in individuals and communities.

As a result, the concept of grit has evolved into a prominent aspect of positive psychology, shaping our understanding of resilience, determination, and long-term goal pursuit.

What Are the Different Definitions of Grit?

Different definitions of grit encompass it as a personality trait associated with perseverance, conscientiousness, and its profound impact on academic achievement and personal success.

Some psychologists view grit as an individual’s ability to persist in striving for long-term goals despite facing obstacles and adversity. This aligns with the concept of perseverance, emphasizing resilience and determination in the face of challenges.

Others link grit closely with conscientiousness, emphasizing the importance of organized, goal-directed behavior and self-discipline. Researchers have also explored how grit contributes to academic and personal successes, highlighting its significance in predicting achievement and resilience in diverse contexts.

What Are the Characteristics of Grit?

The characteristics of grit encompass a fusion of passion, perseverance, resilience, and a growth mindset, underpinned by optimism and self-discipline.

Passion is the fuel that ignites the fire within an individual, propelling them to pursue their goals with unyielding determination. It is the unwavering dedication to their craft that drives them forward, even in the face of daunting challenges.

Perseverance, on the other hand, is the steadfast commitment to long-term objectives, refusing to succumb to setbacks and obstacles. Resilience forms the backbone of grit, enabling individuals to bounce back from adversity with renewed vigor, instead of being disheartened by failures.

Meanwhile, a growth mindset fosters continuous learning and improvement, allowing individuals to view obstacles as opportunities for development.

Passion and Perseverance

Passion and perseverance are integral components of grit, driving individuals to invest effort, stay motivated, and confront challenges in pursuit of their goals.

Passion ignites the fire within, kindling the drive to pursue dreams and ambitions. It gives individuals a sense of purpose and direction, propelling them forward in the face of adversity.

Perseverance, on the other hand, acts as the unwavering anchor, sustaining motivation through setbacks and failures. It fuels the determination to push through obstacles, transforming roadblocks into stepping stones towards success.

Together, passion and perseverance form the backbone of grit, fortifying individuals against the allure of complacency and the discouragement of setbacks. They instill a resilience that propels individuals to transcend difficulties and emerge stronger on the path to achieving their aspirations.


Resilience within the context of grit reflects an individual’s determination, perseverance, optimism, and self-discipline, fostering a sense of hope amidst adversities.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to changes, and maintain a positive outlook in the face of challenges.

It enables individuals to navigate difficulties with a growth mindset, enabling them to learn from experiences and emerge stronger. Resilience also involves seeking and accepting support from others, as well as taking proactive steps to build emotional strength and mental fortitude. In essence, it embodies the capacity to persist and thrive amidst daunting circumstances, embodying the essence of grit.


Persistence, an essential facet of grit, embodies the unwavering determination, perseverance, optimism, self-discipline, and courage required to navigate challenges and strive towards long-term objectives.

It is the tenacity to stay the course, despite setbacks and obstacles, that sets individuals with grit apart.

The ability to maintain focus and enthusiasm in the face of adversity showcases the power of persistence. This quality fuels a sense of purpose and fuels the resilience needed to overcome hurdles, enabling individuals to attain their ambitions.

How Is Grit Measured?

The measurement of grit is typically conducted through instruments such as the Grit Scale and the Short Grit Scale, offering insights into individuals’ perseverance and passion towards their goals.

Both the Grit Scale and Short Grit Scale assess the trait of grit through self-report questionnaires.

The Grit Scale, developed by Angela Duckworth, consists of 12 items that measure perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Participants rate their level of agreement with statements such as ‘I finish whatever I begin’ and ‘Setbacks don’t discourage me’ on a 5-point Likert scale.

On the other hand, the Short Grit Scale, a condensed version of the original scale, has 8 items and evaluates similar dimensions of grit.

These instruments provide a comprehensive understanding of an individual’s resilience and determination in pursuing their objectives.

Grit Scale

The Grit Scale, developed by Angela Lee Duckworth, evaluates the presence of grit through psychometric assessments, providing insights into its impact on psychological constructs, well-being, and academic outcomes.

Measuring consistency of interest, perseverance of effort, and passion for long-term goals, the Grit Scale has become a valuable tool in understanding individuals’ resilience and determination.

Its association with psychological constructs such as resilience, self-control, and conscientiousness further emphasizes its relevance in character assessment. Research has indicated that individuals scoring higher on the Grit Scale tend to exhibit greater emotional intelligence, satisfaction in relationships, and overall well-being.

In educational settings, the Grit Scale has been linked to student success, showing a positive correlation with academic achievement and perseverance in challenging tasks. This suggests that grit, as assessed by the scale, is a significant predictor of success in academic pursuits.

The implications of the Grit Scale extend beyond academic outcomes, contributing to the understanding of individuals’ ability to overcome obstacles and thrive in various domains of life.

Short Grit Scale

The Short Grit Scale, a concise measure of grit in psychology, offers insights into its influence on academic performance, career outcomes, and work-related functioning.

Developed by Angela Duckworth and colleagues, the Short Grit Scale comprises 8 to 12 items, assessing perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Its utility lies in capturing individuals’ ability to overcome challenges and sustain effort despite obstacles.

Research suggests that higher grit scores are associated with higher GPA, retention rates, and overall academic success. In the realm of work, grit has been linked to enhanced job performance, satisfaction, and lower turnover rates among employees.

What Are the Benefits of Having Grit?

Cultivating grit yields numerous benefits, including increased success in achieving goals, better mental health, and improved relationships, leading to positive psychological outcomes.

Individuals with grit are more likely to persist in the face of challenges, which enhances their chances of achieving long-term success. This perseverance also contributes to their mental well-being, as they develop resilience and a sense of accomplishment from overcoming obstacles.

Possessing grit enables individuals to build stronger relationships, as they exhibit determination, dedication, and a positive attitude, which can inspire and motivate others.

Success in Achieving Goals

Grit plays a pivotal role in facilitating success by fostering determination, perseverance, optimism, and self-discipline, resulting in impactful outcomes in career and work-related domains.

Individuals with grit exhibit unwavering determination, allowing them to face challenges head-on and persevere in the face of adversity.

This steadfast resolve fuels their optimism, enabling them to maintain a positive outlook despite obstacles.

Their self-discipline enables them to stay focused on long-term goals, prioritizing sustained effort over immediate gratification.

Better Mental Health

Individuals with high levels of grit exhibit improved mental health, attributed to their resilience, optimism, perseverance, and overall psychological well-being.

Research has shown that those with grit are better able to cope with stress, setbacks, and adversity, leading to lower levels of anxiety and depression.

Their optimistic outlook helps in maintaining a positive mindset, fostering a sense of hope and belief in their ability to overcome challenges. Their perseverance enables them to stay committed to their goals, even in the face of obstacles, contributing to a sense of achievement and personal growth. As a result, their overall psychological well-being is strengthened, leading to a more positive outlook on life and higher levels of satisfaction.

Improved Relationships

Grit contributes to improved relationships through the development of resilience, perseverance, optimism, self-discipline, and effective communication, fostering positive outcomes in interpersonal interactions.

Resilience, one of the key elements of grit, enables individuals to navigate challenges and bounce back from setbacks, which is vital for maintaining healthy relationships.

Perseverance instills the determination to work through obstacles, strengthening the commitment and bond between partners. Optimism fosters a positive outlook, enhancing the overall atmosphere of a relationship.

Additionally, self-discipline cultivates reliability and trust, contributing to the stability and harmony in the relationship.

How Can Grit Be Developed?

Developing grit involves setting clear goals, cultivating a growth mindset, seeking support and feedback, and practicing self-compassion to navigate challenges and foster resilience.

Setting clear goals provides a roadmap for achievement by directing focus and efforts towards specific targets. It helps individuals stay organized, prioritize tasks, and measure progress.

Cultivating a growth mindset involves embracing challenges as opportunities for growth, believing in one’s capacity to learn and improve, and viewing failures as valuable learning experiences. Seeking support and feedback from mentors, peers, or resources can provide guidance, new perspectives, and encouragement.

Embracing self-compassion involves treating oneself with kindness and understanding in the face of setbacks.

Setting Clear Goals

Setting clear and meaningful goals is a fundamental step in developing grit, as it fuels perseverance, passion, motivation, and determination towards long-term accomplishments.

When individuals articulate specific and attainable objectives, it provides them with a roadmap for success, guiding their efforts and actions.

Grit is fostered when these goals are tied to personal values and aspirations, instilling a sense of purpose and driving one’s intrinsic motivation. Clear goals offer benchmarks for progress, allowing individuals to track their advancements and adjust their strategies as needed, cultivating a resilient mindset that is essential for overcoming obstacles and setbacks.

Cultivating a Growth Mindset

Cultivating a growth mindset is essential for developing grit, as it nurtures resilience, optimism, and a focus on continuous learning and talent development.

Individuals with a growth mindset embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, viewing setbacks as valuable lessons rather than failures. This mindset enables individuals to persevere through obstacles and setbacks, fostering a sense of resilience.

Maintaining a growth mindset encourages individuals to maintain optimism, seeing the potential for improvement and success in every situation. Embracing the belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work, individuals with a growth mindset are committed to ongoing learning and self-improvement, continuously seeking ways to enhance their talents and skills.

Seeking Support and Feedback

Seeking support and constructive feedback is instrumental in developing grit, as it bolsters resilience, perseverance, and motivation in the face of challenges.

When individuals actively seek support from peers, mentors, or coaches, they gain valuable insights and perspectives that can aid in developing their grit.

Constructive feedback helps individuals identify areas for improvement and fosters a growth mindset, enabling them to navigate setbacks with determination and learn from their experiences.

Receiving support and feedback encourages individuals to feel connected and valued, which can significantly contribute to their overall well-being and mental strength.

Practicing Self-Compassion

Practicing self-compassion is essential for developing grit, as it fosters resilience, determination, perseverance, and overall psychological well-being amidst adversities.

Self-compassion involves treating oneself with kindness and understanding, especially during challenging times. By acknowledging one’s own suffering and responding with empathy and care, individuals can cultivate a sense of inner strength and emotional resilience.

This mindset not only helps individuals bounce back from setbacks but also enables them to stay focused on their long-term goals, thus nurturing determination and perseverance. For a deeper understanding of grit, you can refer to the Understanding Grit: A Psychological Approach.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is grit and why is it important to understand it?

Grit refers to an individual’s perseverance and passion for long-term goals. It is important to understand grit because it has been linked to success and achievement in various areas of life.

How is grit different from other personality traits?

Grit is unique in that it combines both persistence and passion, while other traits may focus on one or the other. Grit is also focused specifically on long-term goals, rather than short-term tasks or successes.

How can understanding grit benefit individuals and organizations?

Individuals who possess a high level of grit are more likely to achieve their goals and overcome obstacles. For organizations, understanding grit can help in employee selection, performance evaluation, and developing strategies for success.

Is grit something that can be learned or developed?

Yes, research has shown that grit can be developed and strengthened through certain practices. These include setting specific and challenging goals, being resilient in the face of setbacks, and finding intrinsic motivation for pursuing goals.

Are there any negative aspects of having high levels of grit?

While grit has been associated with many positive outcomes, it is important to find a balance and avoid becoming too fixated on long-term goals. This can lead to neglecting other areas of life and potentially experiencing burnout.

Can individuals with low levels of grit still be successful?

Yes, success is not solely determined by grit. Other factors such as natural talent, resources, and opportunities also play a role. However, having a certain level of grit can greatly increase the likelihood of achieving success.

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