PSIHOLOGIJA, 2011, Vol. 45 (2), 99–120 UDC 159.947.5.075
© 2012 by the Serbian Psychological Association DOI: 10.2298/PSI1202099C
Development and Validation
of a Motivational Persistence Scale
Ticu Constantin, Andrei Holman, and Ana Maria Hojbotă
Department of Psychology, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Iasi, Romania
The main goal of our research was to develop a new measure of persistence and to
assess its construct validity and psychometric proprieties. First, we discuss the history of the
psychological construct of persistence, defined here as the tendency to remain engaged in
specific goal-related activities, despite difficulties, obstacles, fatigue, prolonged frustration or
low perceived feasibility. The developed scale, measuring motivational persistence, contains
three-factors: long-term purposes pursuing, current purposes pursuing and recurrence of
unattained purposes. The results of the two validation studies conducted, employing both
exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, advocate the hypothesized structure. Also, the
Pearson and canonical correlations between the three factors of the new self-report scale
and other three related measures (and their factors) indicate good levels of convergent and
divergent validity of the new scale.
Keywords: motivation, goal-related activities, persistence scale, validity.
Western cultures glorify persistence and hard work, discouraging easily
giving up strivings (Hofstede, 2001). Consequence of the protestant work ethics,
persistence is often conceptualized as a source of distinctiveness, a given,
unalterable trait, that is diagnostic for a person’s “calling”. Nevertheless, people
tend to persist more in some tasks than in others and differ in their ability to
choose and pursue important, inciting goals. In this study, we briefly discuss the
confusion surrounding the concept that affected the attempts for its understanding
and measurement, and then we propose a new measure of persistence, which
received support from the data, across two validation studies.
The variety of labels attached to the same construct, persistence, and the
stability – specificity debate has contributed to the lack of unity in this field.
Some authors see persistence as a temperamental dimension (Chess & Thomas,
1987; Cloninger, Przybeck, & Svrakic, 1991), other incorporate it into character
models and name it perseverance (Londoner, 1972; Williams & De Steno,
2008); similar constructs are those of grit (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews,
& Kelly, 2007), tenacity (Gollwitzer, Parks-Stamm, Jaudas, & Sheeran, 2008;
Brandtstädter & Renner, 1990), industriousness (Eisenberger, 1992) or endurance
Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
DEVELOPMENT AND VALIDATION OF A MOTIVATIONAL PERSISTENCE SCALE100
(Rethlingshafer, 1942). The trait perspective was advocated in several studies
(e.g. Baumeister, Gailliot, DeWall, & Oaten, 2006; Deater-Deckard, Petrill,
Thompson, & DeThorne, 2006; Gusnard et al., 2003).
The paronymy perseverance – perseveration and the interchangeable use
in research and clinical settings have generated more confusion regarding the
concept. If the first term is similar to tenacity and persistence, the second refers
to the inability to suppress repeated verbal or motor acts, caused by neurological
conditions (Bjorkland & Harnishfeger, 1990). Consequently, the concept
of perseverance borrowed some features of perseveration, such as rigidity,
irrationality or inappropriateness. The phenomenon was also present in a study
conducted in clinical setting (Serpell, Waller, Fearon, & Meyer, 2009). We
detach the component of inflexibility, erroneously integrated in the definition
of persistence, consequence of the similarity between the surface expressions of
perseverance and perseveration and plead for the adaptive quality to the concept.
Employed as a convenient and versatile measure to test motivation models,
in the experimental tradition, persistence was operationalized as the amount of
time spent on difficult tasks, or as endurance to discomfort (Howells, 1933).
Used to infer the subject’s achievement motivation (Atkinson & Cartwright,
1964; Feather, 1961), conative ability (Downey, 1923), or the tension generated
by unfulfilled needs (Lewin, 1935), persistence was explained as accessibility of
information regarding unfinished tasks (Zeigarnik, 1927), reactance to obstacles
(Wright & Brehm, 1989), an effort justification mechanism (Aronson & Mills,
1959), or a type of internal, controllable attribution (Weiner, 1985).
Persistence is also measured with specific scales (Lufi & Cohen, 1987;
Mukherjee, 1974; Wang, 1932) or components of multiphasic questionnaires
(Temperament and Character Inventory, Cloninger, Przybeck, & Svrakic, 1991;
Self-Control Measure, Tangney, Baumeister, & Boone, 2004; Action Control
Scale, Kuhl, 1994). All perspectives emphasize the following aspects: sustained
involvement in an activity, renewal of commitment and intensification of effort
when facing obstacles (lack of reward, presence of alternative desirable goals).
We already suggested a model of motivational persistence as core component
of the strength of goal striving (Constantin, 2008). Analyzing previous
conceptualizations, we conclude that the inflation of terms and contexts where
persistence is exploited without a clear and unequivocal definition lead to a
perpetuation of its ambiguity. Our aim is to integrate aspects that were regarded
separately into a single model of motivational persistence and test it empirically.
THE CONCEPT OF MOTIVATIONAL PERSISTENCE AND ITS
We conceptualize persistence as a three-dimensional trait, where the frame
is constituted by the time-extension of goals. Due to the distinct properties and
underlying motivational mechanisms conducing to persistence in differently
temporally situated goals, we divide the concept based on of proximity of
Ticu Constantin, Andrei Holman, and Ana Maria Hojbotă 101
Most models treat persistence as a secondary factor, as in the Achievement
Motivation Inventory (Schuler, Thornton, Frintrup, & Mueller-Hanson, 2003)
or Kuhl’s Action Control Model, with its corresponding scale, ACS–90 (Kuhl,
1994). In terms of the Rubicon theory of action phases (Heckhausen &
Gollwitzer, 1987), our model addresses the quality of post-decisional volitional
and motivational processes that govern goal pursuits. We aim to isolate the
elements that sustain to the durability of strivings, regardless of motivational
contents, such as self motives, values, interests, needs, or self-regulatory
In the conceptualization of the three persistence scales, we chose temporal
topography of the goals as important dimensions of the quality of goal pursuits,
operating differently on the subjective experience and efficiency of goal strivings.
Vallacher and Wegner (1987) first made the distinction between concrete and
abstract representation of goals, suggesting that the level on which an action
is conceptualized affects the subsequent involvement, striving and monitoring.
Also, recent neuroimagistic studies suggest that abstract representations activate
different regions than those recruited for concrete ones (Amodio & Frith,
2006). Evolved from the previously mentioned action identification theory,
and combining mental temporal topography of goals with the feature regarding
their level of abstractness, a more recent account describes the temporal
construal of goals. This approach, known as the construal level theory (Trope
& Liberman, 2003, 2010), suggests that activities that are mentally represented
closer to present trigger different associations and require distinct self-regulatory
mechanisms than long-term goals. To imagine future distant actions, people
use abstract goals, while proximal actions are represented in concrete details
(Liberman, Sagristano, & Trope, 2002); moreover, when they think about distant
actions, people use global styles of processing, in contrast with local ones,
employed for nearer events (Fujita, Henderson, Eng, Trope, & Liberman, 2006).
Goal proximity is important because it influences the allocation of
resources: Brendl and Higgins (1995) suggest that perceived distance to goal
attainment influences effort investment. Another related, already documented
phenomenon, discusses goal gradient or the “goal loom larger” effect, which
suggests that feed-back on progress toward attainment subjectively affects the
motivational potency of the goal as the end state is perceived as closer (Kivetz,
Urminsky, & Zheng, 2006). Thus, in the light of these accounts that suggest
that framing of goals affect expectancy, desirability and invested effort, we
theorize persistence in long and short-term endeavors, although correlated, to
be dictated by different mechanisms, and assess them as separate psychological
aspects. Therefore, considering the elaboration of our three-dimensional model,
we hypothesize as the main structural feature of the goals, suspected to calibrate
strivings and previously treated as trivial in alternative models, the goal-end
proximity or temporal duration: we expect higher order or distal goals to be
more abstractly represented than immediate intentions.
Two of the three proposed factors are set on a temporal range, one of
them concerning distant goals – long-term purposes pursuing (LTPP) and the
DEVELOPMENT AND VALIDATION OF A MOTIVATIONAL PERSISTENCE SCALE102
other one referring to the „here and now” – current purpose pursuing (CPP); the
third factor, recurrence of unattained purposes (RUP), addresses past, currently
inactive commitments, in the same time reflecting the subjective consequence of
the interplay between distinct pursuits. Distal goals help maintaining individual
motivation by setting abstract standards such as primary goals, desired outcomes,
states or values. Some of these goals are never fully attainable and generate
a continuous striving as long as the individual is committed to them, such as
moral values or spiritual ideals, which are, in terms used by Trope and Liberman
(2003), formulated with a general focus on the “why” component of goals. On
the other hand, current pursuits are concrete, expressed as actions in specific
situations, they may serve several goals and function on different cognitive
processing styles. Also, effortful persistence in short-term goals, although
implying delay of gratification to some extent, is expected to yield contiguous
feed-back or benefits, while strivings projected over long-term are accompanied
by an anticipated longer delay of outcomes, thus generating greater levels of
uncertainty. The expectancy and proximity of feed-back orients both expectations
and commitment. LTPP is governed by psychologically distant, ideal standards,
emanating motivational power in resource-consuming, prolonged pursuits; CPP
on the other hand, is dependent on self-control, executive resources, through
volitional (energetic) and motivational (recommitment) compensation of current
depleted resources. We expect long-term strivings to be ineffective without an
adequate management of transient endeavors; we also consider that myopia
regarding the consequences of present strivings would deter the process of
current goal striving. Given various situational factors, intentions are often put
off and stored in an explicit or implicit form; they may be activated and this
recurrence represents a subjective or passive, motivational facet of persistence,
while LTPP and CPP are more volition-based. Because of the frictions between
different purposes, RUP serves goal-protective functions, through a dynamic,
chronic tendency of the motivational system to refresh goal-related data. We
further detail the three dimensions.
Current purposes pursuing. CPP apprehends the volitional aspect of everyday
persistence: the ability to remain focused on the goals at hand and to prolong effort
in the face of boredom, fatigue or stress. A behavioral orientation for challenging
tasks, combined with the ability to maintain focus and constant levels of energy
over extended periods, despite distractions, frustration and setbacks are required for
achieving current objectives. Another component of CPP is the need to complete
started goals, or discharge the tension attached to the frustrated goal (Lewin, 1935).
The combination of sustained attention, full involvement and energized focus is
similar to the concept of flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). The cognitive quality of
CPP resembles the properties of the actional mindset, described by Gollwitzer and
Brandtstätter (1997): resistance to disruptions, a closed-minded immersion in the
execution of the goals. Compensation of efforts in the face of obstacles, failure
and frustration is the most widely discussed aspect of persistence and a central
feature of the current model.
Ticu Constantin, Andrei Holman, and Ana Maria Hojbotă 103
The items generated to represent this hypothetical dimension, describe the
ability to remain focused on quotidian activities that require voluntary control, by
resisting distractions and temptations on one hand, and compensating depleted
resources, on the other, coupled with a need to terminate ongoing tasks, once
Long-term purposes pursuing. We separately conceptualize the pursuit of
the long-term goals in personally valued domains. LTPP refers to the ability
to remain committed to resource-consuming, higher-order goals that require
prolonged investment, despite failures or short-term hedonic costs. While CPP
focuses on tenacious pursuit of difficult tasks, LTPP is more closely related to
the concepts of perseverance (Williams & DeSteno, 2008) and grit (Duckworth
et al., 2007). This dimension refers to the ability to refresh and reinforce the
motivational value of distant goals. Current actions could be intermediary steps
towards long-term endeavors, but in many cases, can hijack efforts and deteriorate
commitment. Due to the inherent limitation of resources, different goals compete
and may even be conflicting, altering the quality of each individual striving; the
dissonance can be easily reduced by disengaging from the farthest goal.
The content of the items corresponding to this scale describe the long-
term orientation of individuals: a valorization of stability and continuity of
strivings in medium to long-term projects, ranging from months to years. The
items in this dimension reflect not only the habit of setting future objectives
and developing projects for extended periods, but also the ability to persevere
in order to achieve them.
Recurrence of unattained pursuits. While the previous factors reflect the
strength of current and long-term goal strivings, this one refers, in terms of
the Rubicon model proposed by Heckhausen and Gollwitzer (1987), to a post-
intentional, automatic process that buffers against the decline of commitment
to blocked or suspended pursuits. The recurrence of automatic cognitions
referring to unaccomplished goals protects past intentions and is symptomatic
for an active motivational adherence to them; transcending the present prevents
premature disengagement in the face of tempting alternatives and also helps
detecting opportunities serving those valued goals.
Returning to past goals permits people to evaluate progress and restore
commitment to valued self-views. The overarching motive of self-verification
determines a behavioral tendency towards self-consistency (Swann, Rentfrow, &
Guinn, 2003). Rediscovery and idealization of past goals may serve as a cognitive
strategy to ensure the sense of continuity and derogate costly, less self-defining
current pursuits. Although generally presented as reactive intrusive phenomena
that affect the engagement with the tasks at hand, Martin, Tesser and McIntosh
(1993) argued that ruminations are future oriented, related to higher-level goals.
They serve goal attainment, encourage mental simulations of desirable outcomes
and finding intermediary routes; an instance of the Zeigarnik effect (Zeigarnik,
1967), ruminations persist until goal attainment or complete disengagement and
DEVELOPMENT AND VALIDATION OF A MOTIVATIONAL PERSISTENCE SCALE104
are attempts for finding alternative means or reprioritization (Martin & Tesser,
1996). Studies have shown that unattained goals have two major motivational
features: accessibility of the information related to unfinished tasks (Goschke
& Kuhl, 1996; Zeigarnik, 1927) and a tendency to conquer executive resources
(Lewin, 1935; Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). Goschke and Kuhl (1996)
argue that commitment to a goal improves recognition of goal-related stimuli.
The recurrent quality of unattained purposes serves goal striving process by
focusing attention, devaluing alternatives and enhancing sensitivity to elements
that would serve the attainment of the goals.
The corresponding items reflect the tendency to continue the pursuit of
past, unaccomplished goals, also known as the “persistence-until” hypothesis.
This is reflected in different ways, such as the recurrence of ideas and
representations related to that abandoned projects or enhanced availability of
information regarding opportunities that would support the achievement of those
THE PRESENT RESEARCH
In the absence of adequate existing measures incorporating all the aspects
mentioned above, we developed and validated a self-report questionnaire of
motivational persistence called the Persistence Scale (PS). In the process of
developing the PS, we elaborated distinct scales for the three phenomena
described above. To verify their psychometric properties, we carried two sets of
studies, the first one concerned with the development of the tridimensional PS,
the second one aiming to test the factorial structure, through both exploratory
and confirmatory analyses, and construct validity of the new self-report measure.
The purpose of our first study was to develop a measure of persistence,
according to its three presumed dimensions (CPP, LTPP and RUP), to refine it
through item analysis and exploratory factor analysis, as well as to document its
Participants. A total of 667 participants (257 males and 310 females), ranging from 19 to 67
years of age (M = 39.8 years, SD = 10.5), were recruited from the general population from
different regions of the city of Iasi, Romania. 35 (5.4%) had completed only low secondary
school, 249 (38.5%) – high school, 257 (39.7%) – higher education, and 106 (16.4%)
– postgraduate studies. The scale was distributed by the authors, completed at home by
participants, and then returned to us in a few days. They were ensured that their participation
in the study was anonymous and confidential.
Instrument. PS is a self report measure designed to assess the three dimensions of persistence:
the ability to persist in short-term, daily tasks despite obstacles CPP – 21 items; the capacity
Ticu Constantin, Andrei Holman, and Ana Maria Hojbotă 105
to sustain long-term actions, resisting the temptation to give up in the face of failure – LTPP –
22 items; and the tendency to resume prior important goals – RUP – 20 items. The initial item
pool consisted of 63 items, formulated as first-person statements regarding one’s involvement
and mental dynamics in relation to personal purposes. Participants were required to indicate
the measure that they think each item describes them, on a 5-point scale, ranging from in a
very low degree to in a very high degree.
Analyses. Firstly, we explored the psychometric properties of each item. Then, we examined
the factorial structure of the scale by means of principal component analyses. Subsequently,
correlations among subscales were calculated. The reliability and homogeneity of the PS
questionnaire and its subscales were also assessed.
Exploratory factor analysis. Based on the review of descriptive statistics for
each item, six items were removed because of their low item-total correlations.
The remaining 56 items were submitted to an exploratory factor analysis using
the Principal Components extraction method and the Direct Oblimin rotation,
since we expected a certain degree of correlation between the factors.
The appropriateness of factor analysis was verified by Keiser–Meyer–
Olkin (KMO) measure of sampling adequacy (.923) and Bartlett’s test (p <.001),
both in favor of using this analysis. Also, each item’s measure of sampling
adequacy (MSA) was examined. The lowest individual MSA was 0.88, also
indicating a good degree of factorability.
As the presumed structure of the instrument comprised three subscales, we
employed a theory-driven factor analysis, by imposing a three-factor solution
on the data. However, results show that the fourth factor has an eigenvalue
lower than 1 (.92), and it explains a small amount of variance (5.8%), therefore
providing support for a three-factor structure.
The item selection for the final version of the scale involved two analyses.
First, we inspected whether the omission of each item would increase Cronbach’s
Alpha of the whole instrument. Results indicated seven items which reduced the
internal consistency of the scale, and consequently, were removed from the set
of candidates for the final version.
Second, the pattern matrix for the three-factor solution was examined. We
retained the items with the highest loadings on each subscale, unless they had
high loadings on multiple factors. In these cases, if such loadings were less than
.10 apart, the items were discarded. 16 items were selected for the final scale, all
factor loadings exceeding .60. For them, the factor eigenvalues prior to rotation
were 4.03, 2.60, and 1.59, respectively (3.30, 2.85, and 3.05, after rotation) and
the cumulative common variance accounted for was 48.2%. Communalities
ranged from 0.32 to 0.70. In the selection of items for the final version, we
analyzed both the structure matrix and the pattern matrix coefficients, which
yielded the same results in terms of higher factor coefficient for each of items
selected. In the final version of the PS, two of the subscales (LTPP and RUP)
have six items, while the third (CPP) has only four, since there were no other
item with a loading on this factor higher than .3, which would not have a
DEVELOPMENT AND VALIDATION OF A MOTIVATIONAL PERSISTENCE SCALE106
high cross-loading on another. Factors were fully in accord with the a priori
assignment of items to the scales. The final 16 PS items and their factor loadings
are presented in Table 1.
Table 1. Persistence Scale factor loadings
Item LTPP RUP CPP
Long-term purposes motivate me to surmount day to day
.71 .13 -.31
Even though it doesn’t matter anymore, I keep thinking of personal
aims that I had to give up.
.02 .78 .06
Once I decide to do something, I am like a bulldog: I don’t give up
until I reach the goal.
.30 .10 -.83
I make sure that what I set myself to obtain in several months or
years is realistic.
.63 .07 -.20
I often find myself thinking about older initiatives that I had
.28 .63 -.13
I continue a difficult task even when the others have already given
up on it.
.30 .01 -.81
I purposefully pursue the achievement of the projects that I
.72 .06 -.44
It’s hard for me to detach from an important project that I had given
up in favor of others.
.05 .68 -.13
The more difficult a task is, the more determined I am to finish it. .39 .17 -.69
I remain motivated even in activities that spread on several months. .62 -.01 -.30
From time to time I imagine ways to use opportunities that I have
.01 .62 -.05
I have a high capacity to focus on daily tasks. .39 -.06 -.61
I can easily realize when to stop in the pursuit of important personal
.57 .06 -.29
I often come up with new ideas on an older problem or project. .28 .63 -.13
I keep on investing time and effort in ideas and projects that require
years of work and patience.
.60 -.20 -.38
I keep track of the things I promised myself to acquire at some point. .19 .60 -.23
The correlation between the factor scores indicate low associations of
the recurrence of unattained purposes measure both to the long-term purposes
pursuing subscale (.16) and to the current purposes pursuing subscale, as well
as a stronger correlation (.57) between the measures of LTPP and CPP. These
results are in accordance with the theoretical assumptions concerning the higher
level of positive association between these last two dimensions of perseverance,
as individuals who efficiently pursue short-term, quotidian goals are also more
likely to be attached to their long-term goals.
Reliability and homogeneity. The indexes of reliability and homogeneity
(Cronbach’s α and average inter-item correlations) for the PS and its three
factors are presented in Table 2.
Ticu Constantin, Andrei Holman, and Ana Maria Hojbotă 107
Table 2. Reliability and homogeneity
Persistence Scale CPP RUP LTPP
Cronbach’s α .79 .75 .76 .72
Average inter-item correlation .19 .42 .34 .30
Table 2 reveals acceptable indexes of reliability and homogeneity for the PS
as a whole, as well as for its three factors. Examining the inter-item correlation
matrixes, we found all the correlations to be in the .15 – .50 interval, for each of
the four set of items, thus indicating proper pair-wise associations between them,
while the corrected item – total correlations range from .27 to .50.
Overall, the results of the first study support the three-factor structure
of this new measure of persistence, mirroring the theoretical taxonomy of
the concept which was employed in the item-generation stage, and indicate
reasonable psychometric qualities of the scale and its factors.
The purpose of our second research was twofold: on the one hand,
to test the factorial structure of the PS that emerged from the previous study
through confirmatory factor analysis. On the other, we examined the construct
validity of the PS scale, focusing on the relationship between PS and other
individual differences variables, self-report measures of related self-regulatory
and personality variables. On the basis of previous studies of persistence,
we hypothesized that the subscales should be significantly correlated with
theoretically related constructs such as action orientation, temperamental
persistence and grit.
Participants. Three hundred eighteen participants (53 males and 265 females), ranging from
20 to 54 years of age (M = 25.3 years, SD = 6.76), were recruited from the general population
of the city of Iasi, Romania. Concerning their studies, 231 (72.6%) had completed high
school, 71 (22.3%) – university studies, and 16 (5%) – postgraduate studies. Subjects were
ensured that their participation in the study was anonymous and confidential.
Instruments. The set of instruments we employed were:
1. The new 16-item Persistence Scale developed in the first described study.
2. ACS90. To assess action orientation, we administered the ACS–90 Scales (Kuhl &
Beckmann, 1994), a validated psychometric measure of action orientation, a construct referring
to the ability to start and maintain actions, which predicts success of self-regulatory attempts
(Diefendorff, Hall, Lord, & Strean, 2000). High scorers on the scale are action oriented: they
can easily transform intentions into actions, in contrast to state-oriented individuals, that have
difficulties in initiating and maintaining behaviors. The scale has three dimensions, with 12
items each: (a) Preoccupation dimension indicates how able is an individual to concentrate
intentions in contrast to explicitly processing information related to past, future or present
states; (b) Hesitation indicates the efficiency in initiating goal-directed activities, without
procrastination; (c) Volatility refers to the ability to remain focused on tasks and resist
DEVELOPMENT AND VALIDATION OF A MOTIVATIONAL PERSISTENCE SCALE108
distractions. The items are dichotomous, one option illustrating action oriented tendency and
the other option reflecting the state oriented response.
3. Grit scale. The Grit-O (Duckworth et al., 2007) is a 12-item, two-factor self report
scale measuring the personality trait of grit. Compared to the construct of persistence, the
authors argue that grit adds the idea of passion for the goals that fuels the ability to sustain
effort necessary to achieve those goals. One scale measures consistency of passions (e.g., ‘‘I
have been obsessed with a certain idea or project for a short time but later lost interest’’), the
other – persistence of effort (e.g., ‘‘Setbacks don’t discourage me’’).
4. Persistence scale from the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI, Cloninger,
Pryzbeck, Svrakic, & Wetzel, 1994). In this model, persistence is conceptualized as an
inherited, temperamental trait and measured with 8 items that have a dichotomous scale
attached (true/false choices). We extracted only these eight items that measure the capacity
to sustain actions over extended periods, despite frustration and fatigue; according to the
authors, persistent individuals perceive fatigue and obstacles as personal challenges.
Analyses. The factorial structure of the PS was tested through a first – order confirmatory
factor analysis using maximum likelihood estimation via AMOS 18.0. Target factor loadings,
factor variances and covariances, and measurement error terms were freely estimated, while
in each factor one of the target loadings was fixed to 1. All other parameters were fixed to 0.
Model fit was evaluated through the following indexes: chi-square statistic, the Goodness of
Fit Index (GFI), the Comparative Fit Index (CFI), adjusted goodness-of-fit statistic (AGFI)
and the Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA). We also took into account
the model misspecification indexes – namely the standardized residuals and the modification
indexes – and the squared multiple correlations of each item. In order to assess the associations
of PS to the other measures employed, Pearson-correlations and canonical correlations were
Confirmatory factor analysis. The testing of the three-factor structure yielded
results indicating a relatively poor fit of the hypothesized model to the data:
101= 254.49, p <.01; CFI = .88, AGFI = .88, although others were indicative of
a reasonable fit: GFI = .91; RMSEA = .069. Analyzing the parameter estimates,
we noticed two items with squared multiple correlations lower than .20, namely
.09 for the item “I make sure that what I set myself to obtain in several months
or years is realistic.” and .10 for the item „I can easily realize when to stop in
the pursuit of important personal objectives”. Both items had also low (<.30)
standardized regression weights from their presumed factor – LTPP. Analyzing
their wording, we concluded that both are more concerned with one’s realism
in goal setting and pursuing than with the actual long-term investment in one’s
purposes. In order to eliminate this contamination of the general scope of the PS,
we decided to exclude these two items, proceeding with a post-hoc approach, by
re-specifying the model with the two items excluded.
The model fit results of this second stage of data analysis were: χ2
205.00, p <.01; CFI = .91, GFI = .92, AGFI = .89, RMSEA = .068. They indicate
an increase in overall model fit, yet the adequacy of the factorial structure
remains disputable. Analyzing the modification indexes, we noticed one large
source of misfit, namely the high crossloadings of the item “I keep track of the
Ticu Constantin, Andrei Holman, and Ana Maria Hojbotă 109
things I promised myself to acquire at some point” (presumably belonging to
the RUP subscale) on the other two factors, as indicated by its high regression
weights from these factors (.42 and .41, respectively). Taking into account the
low squared multiple correlation of this item (.21), we decided to eliminate it
from the scale.
The third stage of data analysis yielded the following model fit indexes:
62= 150.47, p <.01; CFI = .94, GFI = .94, AGFI = .91, RMSEA = .056 (with
a 90% confidence interval .043 – .074). Taking into account the recommended
thresholds of these values (Byrne, 2001), the fact that all estimated parameters
were of acceptable magnitude and significant of the .05 level, as well as the
absence of any significant modification indexes or standardized residuals, we
consider this model to fit in a satisfactory degree to the data. Also, estimated
factor loadings and factor correlations were comparable to the results of the
principal component analysis from the first study.
The SEM diagram of the standardized estimates of this final model is
shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. SEM diagram of the standardized estimates of the final PS model
Pearson correlations. The Pearson correlation coefficients between the ACS90
scale, Grit and Cloninger’s Persistence scale and the PS scale (in its final version
of 13 items, supported by the analysis described above) are shown in Table
3. The three PS subscales of the new instrument were significantly correlated
DEVELOPMENT AND VALIDATION OF A MOTIVATIONAL PERSISTENCE SCALE110
with one another. Overall, the persistence variables showed the expected pattern
of correlations, but the relations between the RUP and the other measures are
intriguing. LTPP and CPP factors were significantly correlated with all of these
measures. RUP was predominantly unrelated with all the other scales, except
two: TCI Persistence and Grit – persistence of effort.
Table 3. Means, standard deviations and
correlation coefficients among the variables (N=296)
MSD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1.PS – LTPP 3.42 .725 -
2. PS – CPP 3.34 .702 .702 -
3. PS – RUP 3.16 .612 .189 .156 -
4. ACS Preoccupation .43 .268 .271 .363 -.085 -
5. ACS Hesitation .60 .271 .578 .570 .052 .469 -
6. ACS Volatility .73 .186 .255 .261 -.071 .147 .320 -
7. Grit – consistency
of interests 3.28 .685 .476 .360 -.113 .150 .454 .244 -
8. Grit – persistence
of effort 3.51 .657 .617 .589 .177 .200 .477 .129 .296 -
9. Persistence (TCI) 3.31 .517 .517 .484 .202 .099 .439 .203 .287 .475
Small to moderate correlations were found across the LTPP, the CPP
and the following constructs: Preoccupation (r=.271, respectively r=.363),
Volatility (r=.255 and r=.261) and Consistency of interests (r=.476 and r=.360).
Higher correlations were observed with Hesitation scale (r=.578 and r=.57),
Grit Persistence of effort (r=.617 and r=.598) and TCI-R Persistence (r=.517
and r=.484). Like the other two scales measuring persistence of effort (Grit-
perseverance of effort and TCI – persistence), CPP and LTPP were more highly
related to prospective action orientation, the ability to initiate actions and avoid
Canonical correlations. In order to analyze the multivariate relationships
between the set of the three PS scales and each of the set of scales comprising
the other three instruments, we computed the canonical correlations between
these variables. As such, we employed three statistical analyses, each focusing
on the relationships between two networks of variables: the PS scales, on one
side, and the scales of each of the other three instruments, on the other.
The canonical correlation procedure first computes two synthetic scores
(latent variables), one for each set of original variables (Thompson, 1991).
Then, the correlation between these synthetic distributions is computed. In the
process of building these latent variables, each original variable is weighted in
its set; the importance (statistical weight) of each original variable for the latent
dimension which synthesizes the set it belongs to is reflected by the canonical
loadings (canonical variate-variable correlations). Another issue to consider is
the potential redundancy of an original variable, its high overlap with another
variable from its set. The parameter relevant for this matter is the standardized
canonical coefficients of each variable. Low absolute values of this coefficient
Ticu Constantin, Andrei Holman, and Ana Maria Hojbotă 111
indicate the redundancy of that original variable, hence its low actual importance
for the synthetic variable despite its high canonical loading on it. Similar to
other studies employing canonical correlations analysis in the assessment of the
construct validity of psychological instruments (Masters & Wallston, 2005), we
considered as relevant in the interpretative process of the canonical correlations
results only the coefficients (both canonical loadings and standardized canonical
correlations) above .30.
a. PS and ACS. Standardized canonical coefficients are displayed in Table
4 and canonical variate-variable correlations (canonical loadings) are presented
in Table 5. Only the first two canonical correlations were significant.
Table 4. Standardized canonical coefficients summary table for PS scales and ACS scales
Scale 1 2 3
LTPP -.542 .801 -1.031
CPP -.560 -.818 .995
RUP .158 .757 .663
ACS Preoccupation -.143 -1.020 .469
ACS Hesitation -.858 .792 .179
ACS Volatility -.169 -.419 -.954
Table 5. Canonical variate-variable correlations summary
table for PS scales and ACS scales
Scale 1 2 3
LTPP -.906 .370 -.206
CPP -.917 -.138 .375
RUP -.032 .781 .624
ACS Preoccupation -.570 -.711 .413
ACS Hesitation -.979 .180 .094
ACS Volatility -.464 -.315 -.828
The first RC = .628, p <.01, accounting for 39.44% of the variance. The
most influential PS factors on the relevant latent variables were LTPP and CPP,
both with similar standardized canonical coefficients (see the first column of
Table 5) and canonical loadings (negative in valence – see the first column of
Table 4). On the other side of the correlation, the Hesitation scale of the ACS
emerged as the most important factor, with the same negative valence as the
correspondent PS scales.
DEVELOPMENT AND VALIDATION OF A MOTIVATIONAL PERSISTENCE SCALE112
The second RC = .202, p = .014, accounting for 4.08% of the variance.
On the PS side, the most important factors for the synthetic variables in this
correlation were RUP and, in a lesser degree (with a lower canonical variate-
variable correlation, of .370) LTPP, both positively related. On the ACS side, the
Preoccupation scale is the defining factor, negatively related to its correspondent
Overall, the results of the canonical correlations analysis are in line with
those of the Pearson correlations analysis, presented above. They emphasize and
bring further statistical support to the positive relationships between the first two
PS scales (LTPP and CPP) and the ACS Hesitation scale, as the most consistent
link between the two instruments. Furthermore, a second, less important (in
terms of shared variance), but nevertheless significant canonical correlation
emerged. This points to the negative relationships between the RUP scale of
the PS and the ACS Preoccupation scale – a relationship which the Pearson
correlation analysis revealed also as a negative one, but non-significant.
b. PS and Grit. Standardized canonical coefficients are displayed in Table
6 and canonical variate-variable correlations are presented in Table 7. Both
canonical correlations were significant.
Table 6. Standardized canonical coefficients summary
table for PS scales and Grit scales
Scale 1 2
LTPP -.719 -.646
CPP -.367 .597
RUP .073 .906
Grit – Consistency of interests -.653 -1.380
Grit – Persistence of effort -1.173 1.075
Table 7. Canonical variate-variable correlations summary
table for PS scales and Grit scales
Scale 1 2
LTPP -.963 -.056
CPP -.861 .285
RUP -.120 .877
Grit – Consistency of interests -.676 -.737
Grit – Persistence of effort -.904 .428
Ticu Constantin, Andrei Holman, and Ana Maria Hojbotă 113
The first RC = .715, p <.01, accounting for 51.12% of the variance. The
canonical variate was negatively loaded by LTPP and CPP from the PS set, and
by both Grit scales on the other, with a higher importance of the Persistence of
effort scale (its variate-variable correlation being –.904, compared to the –.676
correlation of the Consistency of interests scale).
The second RC = .265, p <.01, accounting for 7.02% of the variance. On the
PS side, the RUP scale had the strongest influence on the latent variable, with a
positive loading, while on the Grit side, Consistency of interests emerged as the
most important factor, with a high negative loading (-.737); the latent variable also
had a lower positive loading (.428) for the other Grit scale – Persistence of effort.
Again, the results of the canonical correlation analysis match the profile of the
Pearson correlations between the four variables, both in valence and in magnitude.
The first canonical correlation revealed the relatively strong relationship between
the LTPP and CPP scales of the PS and the two Grit scales, especially with the
Persistence of effort scale. The second, lower, canonical correlation deals with the
opposite associations of RUP to the Grit scales: negative to the Consistency of
interests scale and positive to the Persistence of effort scale.
c. PS and Persistence (TCI). Standardized canonical coefficients are displayed
in Table 8 and canonical variate-variable correlations are presented in Table 9. The
canonical correlation was significant: RC = .553, p <.01, accounting for 30.58% of
the variance. The first two scales of the PS (LTPP and CPP) had similar positive
loadings on the latent variable, while RUP had a low standardized canonical
coefficient (below .3). These results match the profile of the associations between the
two scales sketched by the Pearson correlations, with relatively strong relationships
between the LTPP and CPP scales of the PS and the Persistence (TCI) scale.
Table 8. Standardized canonical coefficients summary
table for PS scales and Persistence (TCI) scales
Persistence (TCI) 1
Table 9. Canonical variate-variable correlations summary
table for PS scales and Persistence (TCI) scales
Persistence (TCI) 1
DEVELOPMENT AND VALIDATION OF A MOTIVATIONAL PERSISTENCE SCALE114
First, the results of the confirmatory approach cross-validated the factorial
structure of the Persistence Scale which emerged from Study 1. Overall, the
combination of exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis led to the design of
three meaningful and internally consistent Persistence subscales.
The correlations patterns of these subscales with the other instruments
support the convergent and divergent validity of the Persistence scale. As
expected, all three PS factors correlate with TCI-persistence and Grit-persistence
of effort, constructs with which they have most overlapping features. Given
the range of the Pearson correlations, results suggest that the scales measure
similar, still distinct constructs. Of the three PS scales, only LTPP shows
a higher correlation with Grit-consistency of interests facet, since updating
commitment in protracted endeavors requires stability of concerns. In relation
to action control, correlations indicate that regardless of the length of goal
trajectories, forces that sustain engagement segregate from those that promote
disengagement. For instance, CPP and LTPP scales show weak to moderate
positive associations with ACS-volatility/persistence scale, and, in turn, stronger
correlations with ACS-hesitation. Although divergent from initial expectations,
these results underline our idea that LTPP and CPP are more related to the
executive processes, that also control prioritization, enactment of intentions, and
management of energy resources; at the same time, closely analyzing the content
of the ACS-volatility scale, we concluded that the factor is more dependent upon
the directional forces involved in intention protection from distractions. These
processes dictate the variations in interest, concentration and enthusiasm and are
supposedly distinct from those that sustain intention formation and enactment.
The third facet of volitional action control, referring to emotional shielding
from unwanted feelings and thoughts, also correlates poorly to the capacity to
implement lasting or fleeting courses of actions, as showed by the correlations
between LTPP, CPP and the ACS-preoccupation scale. This result is accordant
with an idea proposed in a validation study of the ACS scale, where low scorers
on preoccupation, although state-oriented, are described as presumably “more
cautious, diligent and thoughtful” (Diefendorff et al., 2000, p. 260). Moreover,
the preoccupation scale tends to associate negatively, but not on a significant
level, to RUP. While the former refers to emotional control or inhibition of
unwanted states, the latter is conceptualized by our model as serving the goal of
signaling abandoned intentions. In the development of the RUP scale, we only
maintained the aspects referring to the motivating characteristics of important,
still unattained goals, not to the failure-related information related to those
pursuits, which hinder persistence. This goal-signaling mechanism, derived from
the multiplicity of human endeavors, and ignored by other persistence models,
may also predispose to another trade-off: the vacillation between recently chosen
goals and the abandoned ones, as implied by the negative correlation between
RUP and consistency of interest. The result is also suggesting that the drive to
explore old engagements is not related to the tendency to seek new interests.
Ticu Constantin, Andrei Holman, and Ana Maria Hojbotă 115
Given the novel and multidimensional structure of persistence construct,
and the asymmetric contributions of the three factors, we considered that the
multivariate technique of canonical correlations may provide useful clues for
describing the nature of the construct and its relations with similar variables. As
shown in the results section, both the Pearson coefficient and the first canonical
correlation between the PS and the ACS scales indicate that effortful investment
in current and time-consuming, chronic goals are highly associated with the
readiness to engage in actions and deflect procrastination. Of the three analyzed
pairs, the highest degree of overlap was observed between PS and Grit scales,
both focused on investments over timely endeavors. Weaker relationships were
observed between PS scales and Persistence subscale from TCI on one hand, and
ACS on the other, both capturing the dynamics of action regulation in short-term
endeavors. Interesting suggestions are also offered by the results concerning
the associations of the RUP factor with the canonical variates, indicating that
the mechanisms responsible for signaling resumption or continuance of focal
higher order goals may interact with the continuity of present interests, since
this tendency might generate conflicts with current endeavors, revision of goal
hierarchies and corresponding priorities or even signal conative failures. At
the same time, the pattern of associations between RUP and the preoccupation
tendencies scale suggest a more reflective disposition toward thoughtful
consideration of alternative goals and attached investments (table 5, column 2),
already considered in the previous discussion of the Pearson correlations.
Another interesting observation concerns the patterns of canonical loadings of
the CPP and LTPP in the second sets of canonical variate-variable correlations
between PS and both ACS and grit scales (the second column in tables 5 and
7), suggesting different contributions of the two hypothesized scales and further
advocating for the distinctions between the current and long-term endeavors.
Nevertheless, since the total percent of variance involving these relations is
modest (ranging between 4.08% and 7.02%), a bolder interpretation of the
patterns observed in these second pairs is questionable and additional research
is needed. It should be noted that a problem with the employed multivariate
explanatory method for construct validity concerns the interpretability of the
results, since the canonical correlations offer only descriptive information
regarding the sets of data. To put it briefly, as already partly suggested in the
section analyzing the Pearson correlations between the variables, the canonical
correlations reveal that the cognitive and motivational factors involved in
stimulating motivation and the affective and volitional ones responsible for its
sustainability, all assuring persistence over longitudinal pursuits, may operate
on different mechanisms and even act antagonistically. Further analyses of how
persistent individuals manage and resolve goal conflicts in order to protect their
focal, self-defining strivings might elucidate this pattern of relations and support
the presumed conceptual distinctions.
Overall, results indicate that persistence in short and long-term endeavors
is more closely related to the initiative and decisiveness aspects of action control,
than to distractibility facet. Demand-related action control, or volitional action
DEVELOPMENT AND VALIDATION OF A MOTIVATIONAL PERSISTENCE SCALE116
under unpleasant conditions, such as difficulty, time pressure or uncertainty,
refers to an ability to promptly decide about opportunities and implement them.
We consider that the ACS volatility scale relies on a more attention-based form
of action regulation, rather than the effortful control of behavior, dependent on
volitional compensation of resources in the face of obstacles, the basic feature of
The conceptual tension between the persistence and action orientation
is suggested by some studies that indicate that, given the confusion they make
between self – ascribed goals and those imposed by others, state oriented
individual may be more persistent in unattractive, boring tasks (Koole &
Jostmann, 2004) and show a frustration tolerance in performing unattractive tasks
(Koole, Kuhl, Jostmann, & Vohs, 2005). As can be observed, the persistence
scale from ACS modestly correlated with Cloninger’s TCI persistence scale,
Grit persistence of effort measure and all the scales in our questionnaire.
In the attempt to define persistent behaviors, researchers face the greatest
challenge when faced with the task of distinguishing between motivated,
engaged behaviors and non-motivated, passive and inertial actions. Escalation
of non-productive actions even when facing minimal odds is not a feature of
functional, motivated behavior. This study suggests that there may be two facets
of the persistence phenomenon, one related to the effortful, volitional control of
action and the other to the quality of attention and interest.
Drawing on existing theoretical models of persistent behavior, we have
proposed a model that includes volitional and cognitive-motivational aspects.
Previous models ignore the quality of recurrence that define past, important
commitments, or even dismiss it, considering a source of inter-goal conflicts
that subsequently diminishes focus on current pursuits and generates negative
affectivity. Our data grants that the cognitive-motivational quality of suspended
pursuits is an important component of continuity of behaviors, which protects
against volatility of strivings and is distinct from other phenomena such as
Our operationalization of the concept and structure of persistence into the
Persistence Scale received empirical support, across the two validation studies
conducted on large samples of participants. Regarding its factorial structure, our
multi-staged data analysis led to a coherent and statistically adequate model,
derived from the three distinct facets of the concept – CPP, RUP, LTPP. The
second study provided support for the construct validity of the instrument,
through the associations of the Persistence scale and its factors to the other
three instruments employed. Future investigations are needed in order to assess
the criterion validity of the Persistence scale across various types of long-term
behaviors, as well as in relation to objective behavioral data.
Ticu Constantin, Andrei Holman, and Ana Maria Hojbotă 117
This research was supported by CNCSIS through the program IDEI (IDEAS), as part of the
project “Motivational persistence – from affective and cognitive determinations to contextual
conditionings”, PN-II-ID-PCE, code 2206.
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Appendix – Persistence scale
1. I often come up with new ideas on an older problem or project.c
2. I remain motivated even in activities that spread on several months.a
3. I have a good capacity to focus on daily tasks.b
4. From time to time I imagine ways to use opportunities that I have given up.c
5. Long term purposes motivate me to surmount day to day difficulties.a
6. Once I decide to do something, I am like a bulldog: I don’t give up until I
reach the goal.b
7. Even though it doesn’t matter anymore, I keep thinking of personal aims
that I had to give up.c
8. I purposefully pursue the achievement of the projects that I believe in.a
9. I continue a difficult task even when the others have already given up on it.b
10. I often find myself thinking about older initiatives that I had abandoned.c
11. I keep on investing time and effort in ideas and projects that require years of
work and patience.a
12. The more difficult a task is, the more determined I am to finish it.b
13. It’s hard for me to detach from an important project that I had given up in
favor of others.c
a. Long-term purposes pursuing
b. Current purposes pursuing
c Recurrence of unattained purposes