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Persevering with Positivity and Purpose: An Examination of Purpose Commitment and Positive Affect as Predictors of Grit


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Grit, defined as a passion and perseverance for one's goals, has been consistently demonstrated as an adaptive resource across multiple domains. Less explored, however, are the correlates of and sources from which grit is derived. The current studies examined two plausible candidates for promoting grit, positive affect and commitment to a purpose, using college student samples from Canada and the United States. Study 1 confirmed our predictions that grittier students tended to report greater positive affect and purpose commitment , and demonstrated that these variables appear to be unique and independent predictors of grit. Study 2 examined these claims using two-wave data collected across a semester, and found that while both purpose and positive affect were initially correlated with grit, only initial levels of purpose predicted grit at wave two. In other words, having a life direction may help more than positive affect when predicting who is likely to become grittier over a college semester. Implications of these findings are discussed. Keywords Grit Á Purpose Á Positive affect Á Emerging adulthood
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Persevering with Positivity and Purpose:
An Examination of Purpose Commitment and Positive
Affect as Predictors of Grit
Patrick L. Hill Anthony L. Burrow Kendall Cotton Bronk
ÓSpringer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014
Abstract Grit, defined as a passion and perseverance for one’s goals, has been consistently
demonstrated as an adaptive resource across multiple domains. Less explored, however, are
the correlates of and sources from which grit is derived. The current studies examined two
plausible candidates for promoting grit, positive affect and commitment to a purpose, using
college student samples from Canada and the United States. Study 1 confirmed our pre-
dictions that grittier students tended to report greater positive affect and purpose commit-
ment, and demonstrated that these variables appear to be unique and independent predictors
of grit. Study 2 examined these claims using two-wave data collected across a semester, and
found that while both purpose and positive affect were initially correlated with grit, only
initial levels of purpose predicted grit at wave two. In other words, having a life direction
may help more than positive affect when predicting who is likely to become grittier over a
college semester. Implications of these findings are discussed.
Keywords Grit Purpose Positive affect Emerging adulthood
1 Introduction
When identifying which individuals are prone to success, the most obvious candidates are
those who have a passion for their long-term goals and persevere towards their attainment
P. L. Hill (&)
Department of Psychology, Carleton University, A515 Loeb Building, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa,
ON K1S 5B6, Canada
A. L. Burrow
Department of Human Development, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
K. C. Bronk
Department of Psychology, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA, USA
J Happiness Stud
DOI 10.1007/s10902-014-9593-5
even in the face of obstacles. Researchers have defined this combination of passion and
perseverance as ‘‘grit,’’ a dispositional tendency that helps account for individuals’ success
above and beyond cognitive functioning (Duckworth et al. 2007). The effects of grit appear
most prominently in academic contexts, with grittier individuals achieving higher grade
point averages, higher levels of educational attainment, and greater success in scholastic
competitions (Duckworth et al. 2007; Duckworth and Quinn 2009). Indeed, the positive
relationship between grit and achievement even appears at the physiological level (Silvia
et al. 2013), predicting nervous system responses to given achievement tasks.
Given the clear promise of possessing grit, particularly in the classroom, research is
needed to better understand the cross-sectional and prospective correlates of grit. Using
two samples from different countries, the current studies considered two potential pre-
dictors of grit among college students. These hypotheses are not necessarily competing, but
both could explain the cross-sectional and prospective correlates of grit. First, the purpose
commitment hypothesis suggests that compared to students who lack a sense of direction in
life, those who have committed to a purpose or direction should report higher levels of grit,
in order to help them strive toward their life goals. Second, the positive emotions
hypothesis predicts that having a strong base of positive emotionality should better equip
individuals to develop abilities and skills that promote later success, such as grit. To date,
relatively little research has examined either purpose or positive affect as correlates of grit,
and thus we elaborate below upon the rationale why these posited relationships might be
1.1 The Purpose Commitment Hypothesis
Having a purpose in life entails a commitment to an ultimate life goal that serves to
organize and plan the individual’s daily and long-term activities (McKnight and Kashdan
2009), and individuals oriented toward a set of life goals tend to demonstrate consistency
(i.e., continued commitment) to their choices over several years (Hill et al. 2010). While
purpose has been typically viewed as an indicator of positive adult development (e.g., Ryff
1989), there is increasing evidence that individuals may begin to commit to a purpose
during the adolescent and emerging adult years, and that doing so can serve as a catalyst
for adaptive development (e.g., Bronk 2013; Damon et al. 2003; Hill et al. 2013). While
most of this work has focused on well-being, finding a direction for life and knowing which
life goals to strive toward should build a greater perseverance and passion for these goals
(i.e., grit). Indeed, recent research suggests that grit is associated with a stronger orientation
toward deeper, more meaningful rather than hedonically pleasing activities (Von Culin
et al. 2014). Without having meaningful goals or benchmarks, one might be left without
clear targets to persevere toward, and thus fewer contexts and environments in which to
inculcate a gritty disposition.
In this respect, a purpose can be thought of as a press, which guides one to changing in
ways that help achieve success toward a long-term commitment, similarly to how adopting
social roles appears to influence personality development (see e.g., Jackson et al. 2012;
Hudson et al. 2012). When considering purpose and grit, being a college student appears a
particularly valuable social role for investigation. Purpose development is in flux during
the adolescent and emerging adult years (Hill et al. 2013), suggesting that its role on
personality traits (like grit) might be strongest during this period. Accordingly, we focused
on this context for the current studies, although it is likely that grit correlates positively
with purpose throughout life, given that purposeful adults tend to be more conscientious
and hardworking (Scheier et al. 2006; Siegler and Brummett 2000).
P. L. Hill et al.
2 The Positive Emotions Hypothesis
Similarly, research has only begun to examine the link between positive affect and grit,
with only one investigation thus far to our knowledge (Singh and Jha 2008), which itself
only was cross-sectional in nature. In line with that study, one should anticipate that grittier
individuals would experience greater positive affect. Positive correlations should be
expected for at least three reasons. First, gritty individuals have a more positive personality
profile, including lower levels of neuroticism and higher levels of extraversion (Duckworth
and Quinn 2009), traits known to be related to emotional well-being (see Steel et al. 2008).
Second, individuals may exhibit greater interest in their long-term goals if they are
building this passion from an existing base of positivity and optimism. This prediction
follows from a literature that suggests one function of positive emotions, such as interest
and inspiration, is to help build physical, intellectual, and social resources (Fredrickson
2001), which presumably would allow individuals a greater ability to deal with potential
obstacles to their long-term goals. In other words, positive affect can provide a foundation
from which individuals are better able to persevere in their goal pursuit, which could prove
more difficult without a base of positive emotionality.
Third, this second hypothesis builds from recent findings suggesting that well-being can
potentially drive changes in personality development. For instance, individuals more sat-
isfied with their lives are more prone to adaptive personality changes (e.g., gains on those
traits that promote success across life domains; Specht et al. 2013). These findings also
have been extended to other components of subjective well-being, such as positive and
negative affect (Soto 2013). Typically, this work on well-being and personality change is
summarized with respect to the notion that individuals who live happier or more satisfied
lives are more likely to act in ways that enhance or maintain that well-being. Grit seem-
ingly is one such candidate insofar that it promotes success in academic and work domains,
and as such deepening or developing this characteristic may lead to greater satisfaction and
well-being, which in turn serves as feedback for the need to be gritty in the future.
Accordingly, positive affect might promote the development of positive traits, such as grit,
leading to these two variables being positively correlated both cross-sectionally and pro-
spectively. The current studies focus on testing this claim with respect to both positive
affect and purpose commitment.
3 Study 1
Study 1 focused on addressing three important points regarding the role of purpose and
positive affect in predicting levels of grit. First, we sought to establish the predicted
positive relationships between all three variables, as research has yet to fully link purpose
and positive affect to grit even in cross-sectional data. Moreover, in line with previous
work (e.g., Duckworth et al. 2007; Duckworth and Quinn 2009), we sought to demonstrate
that grit presents with these relations unique from the Big Five personality traits (John and
Srivastava 1999). As noted above, levels of grit tend to correlate with a more positive
personality profile (greater agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, extra-
version, and openness to experience; Duckworth et al. 2007; Duckworth and Quinn 2009).
Moreover, the relation between grit and conscientiousness often proves strong enough to
lead researchers to suggest that grit may be best viewed as simply a component of the
higher-order trait (Roberts et al. 2014). As such, given the recent and widespread interest in
grit research (see Tough 2012), research is needed not only to establish a relationship
An Examination of Purpose Commitment and Positive Affect
between grit and outcomes like positive affect or purpose, but also to demonstrate that
these relations hold beyond just the Big Five, given that the Big Five traits consistently
correlate with well-being (see Hill, Mroczek and Young for a review) as well as purpose in
life (Hill and Burrow 2012; Schmutte and Ryff 1997).
Second, to conduct tests of unique predictive value, we performed a multiple regression
analysis to simultaneously consider purpose and positive affect as predictors of grit. Third,
though not necessarily expected, we explored potential interactive effects for purpose and
positive affect. For instance, purposeful individuals might be especially likely to be grittier
when they start with a foundation of positive affect. Alternatively, the role of positive
affect on grit could be greater for those who are striving toward a set of committed life
goals. A compensatory effect also could occur, insofar that positive affect or purpose in life
play a stronger role on grit when in the absence of the other variable. However, these
analyses were exploratory in nature, and thus we withhold any predictions.
4 Methods
4.1 Participants and Procedure
Three hundred thirty-seven undergraduates (M
=20.26 years, SD =3.96, range
17–45 years) at a large Canadian university took part in the survey for either course credit
or $5 Canadian (approximately $4.52 USD). Around two-thirds of participants ended up
choosing the course credit option. The sample was predominantly female (75 %), in their
first or second year of school (82 %), and White (62 %). All participants completed the
survey online at their leisure, but were restricted to roughly a three-week window in which
to complete the study. The survey contained questions related to different aspects of the
self (purpose, identity, personality), as well as indices of health and wellbeing. We report
below on the primary measures of interest for the current study. Participants were allowed
to skip items as they wished, and thus the sample sizes reported differ slightly between
analyses; however, very little missing data occurred overall as most participants completed
the full inventory.
4.2 Purpose Commitment
Purpose commitment was assessed using a 15-item measure developed by Bundick et al.
(2006), which borrows items from previous inventories (Crumbaugh and Maholick 1967;
Keyes et al. 2002; Steger et al. 2006). Participants rated their agreement on a scale from 1
(Strongly Disagree) to 7 (Strongly Agree) to items such as ‘‘My life has a clear sense of
purpose’’ and ‘‘I do many things that give my life meaning.’’ Similar to previous work
(Bronk et al. 2009; Burrow et al. 2010), this measure demonstrated strong reliability
4.3 Positive Affect
Positive affect was assessed using the 10-item subscale from the PANAS measure (Watson
et al. 1988). Participants rated how frequently they generally feel emotions such as
‘Interested’’ and ‘‘Excited’’ on a scale from 1 (Very slightly or not at all) to 5 (Extremely).
Reliability for the measure was strong in the current sample (a=.89).
P. L. Hill et al.
4.4 Grit
Grit was assessed using the 8-item brief measure developed by Duckworth and Quinn
(2009). Throughout both studies, we focus on the full scale rather than separating this
measure into its subscales. Participants rated their agreement to items such as ‘‘Setbacks
don’t discourage me’’ and ‘‘I am a hard worker’’ on a scale from 1 (Very Much Like Me) to
5 (Not Like Me at All), with scores reversed to allow higher values to indicate greater
levels of grit. Reliability in the current sample was good (a=.71).
4.5 Big Five Personality Traits
Personality was assessed using the Big Five Inventory (John 2008; John and Srivastava
1999). Participants are asked to rate 44 characteristics with respect to whether they per-
sonally apply on a scale from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Agree Strongly). All traits
demonstrated strong reliabilities in the current sample: extraversion, sample item: ‘‘is
talkative’’, a=.86; agreeableness: ‘‘is helpful and unselfish with others’’, a=.80; con-
scientiousness: ‘‘is a reliable worker’’, a=.81; neuroticism: ‘‘is depressed, blue’’,
a=.83; openness: ‘‘is curious about many different things’’, a=.77).
5 Results
5.1 Bivariate Correlations
To first test whether grit and purpose are related positively, bivariate correlations were
performed, and Table 1presents these across all the variables of interest. As expected, grit,
positive affect, and purpose all correlated positively. In addition, all three variables cor-
related with a largely adaptive Big Five personality profile, with significant correlations in
all cases except for the relation between grit and openness to experience. As such, it is
worth noting that even when controlling for all Big Five traits, partial correlations with grit
were significant for both purpose [r(319) =.21] and positive affect [r(313) =.15].
Accordingly, both variables appear positively related to levels of grit, even when con-
trolling for these shared personality correlates.
Table 1 Correlations and descriptive statistics for constructs of interest in Study 1
Grit (1)
Purpose (2) .44*
Positive Affect (3) .38* .60*
Extraversion (4) .16* .40* .47*
Agreeableness (5) .27* .35* .30* .08 –
Conscientiousness (6) .60* .43* .36* .18* .32*
Neuroticism (7) -.37* -.35* -.39* -.31* -.22* -.23* –
Openness (8) .05 .17* .34* .18* .16* .07 -.07 –
Mean 3.18 3.65 3.38 3.16 3.75 3.46 3.17 3.53
SD 0.58 0.79 0.72 0.80 0.65 0.65 0.78 0.60
*p\.05; n’s for correlations range from 320 to 332
An Examination of Purpose Commitment and Positive Affect
5.2 Multiple Regression Analyses
Next, we performed a multiple regression analysis to examine whether purpose commit-
ment and positive affect are unique or overlapping correlates of grit. Table 2presents the
results from these regression analyses, controlling for age and gender. Both purpose and
positive affect provided unique associations with grit in this study, demonstrating that these
two potential predictors are not overlapping. Finally, we included an interaction term to
test any potential moderator effects. However, this term failed to reach significance when
added to the model (B =-.02, t\1).
6 Discussion
Study 1 provided three important additions to the literature. First, it provided initial evi-
dence for our suggested relations between grit and both purpose and positive affect.
Moreover, these relations held even when controlling for the Big Five, demonstrating that
they cannot be explained by these higher-order traits. Second, the multiple regression
findings suggest that purpose commitment may prove the stronger correlate of grit;
however, this point will receive further attention in Study 2. More importantly, the two
variables do appear to explain unique variance in levels of grit. Third, we found no
evidence of any moderation effects, suggesting that purpose and positive affect are largely
unique and non-interactive predictors of grit.
7 Study 2
In Study 2, we sought to replicate and extend these findings using a sample of college
students in the United States. First, at the start of the semester, we expected to confirm the
positive relationships between the three constructs of interest (grit, purpose, and positive
affect). Second, we examined the longitudinal relationships between the constructs using
two-wave cross-lagged models, linking their data at the start and end of the semester.
Following the purpose commitment hypothesis, one might anticipate those higher initially
on purpose might be prone to increase on grit across the semester. The positive emotions
hypothesis though would suggest that positive affect may catalyze such changes. In
addition, we tested the alternative hypotheses, namely that grit could predict changes on
purpose commitment or positive affect. This investigation provides an initial step toward
understanding how purpose and positive affect might influence changes in grit.
8 Methods
8.1 Participants
One hundred sixty-five undergraduates at a mid-sized public university in the Midwest
United States completed paper-and-pencil surveys in class during the start of a college
semester. Our sample included relatively equal numbers of participants who were 19 years
old (19.4 %), 20 years (22.4 %), 21 years (20.6 %), and over 21 years (23.6 %), with
fewer individuals under 19 years of age (13.9 %). Participants tended to be female
(63.6 %) and white (93.3 %). Of this initial sample, 121 participants (73.3 % retention)
P. L. Hill et al.
Table 2 Multiple regression analysis predicting grit from purpose, positive affect, and control variables in Study 1 (left section), cross-sectionally in Study 2 (middle
section), and prospectively in Study 2 (right section)
Predictor Study 1 Study 2 T1 Study 2 T1 ?T2
B (s.e.) bt B (s.e.) bt B (s.e.) bt
Full model F(4, 310) =24.35* F(4, 160) =17.14* F(4, 310) =24.35*
Age 00 (.01) -.02 -0.33 .02 (.03) .05 0.79 .00 (.03) .01 0.07
Gender (1—Male) -.06 (.07) -.04 -0.86 .01 (.08) .01 0.07 .06 (.09) .05 0.67
Purpose commitment .21 (.04) .38 6.11* .28 (.06) .36 4.76* .24 (.07) .33 3.54*
Positive affect .13 (.05) .16 2.68* .30 (.08) .27 3.50* -.14 (.10) -.12 -1.37
Grit T1 .48 (.09) .47 5.36*
*p\.05. Multiple R’s for each analyses are .49, .55, and .49 respectively across columns
An Examination of Purpose Commitment and Positive Affect
completed the survey again at the end of the semester, roughly 3 months later. The second
wave (T2) sample had fewer participants in the older age brackets [v
(4) =27.57,
p\.05], but did not differ on the primary variables under investigation. All cross-sectional
analyses conducted were from the full sample, while longitudinal analyses included only
those participants with T2 data.
8.2 Measures
Grit, purpose commitment, and positive affect were assessed using the same scales as in
Study 1. For grit, reliability was good at both time points (T1 a=.79; T2 a=.80), and
the scale demonstrated a strong test–retest correlation (r=.61, p\.05). For purpose
commitment, reliability was good at both time points (T1 a=.89; T2 a=89), and the
scale demonstrated a strong test–retest correlation (r=.66, p\.05). For positive affect,
reliability was good at both time points (T1 a=.80; T2 a=.81), and the scale demon-
strated a strong test–retest correlation (r=.51, p\.05).
9 Results
9.1 Wave 1 Correlations and Description of Change over Time
Following predictions, all three constructs were strongly positively correlated at T1. Grit
was associated with greater purpose commitment (r=.49, p\.05), and higher levels of
positive affect (r=.45, p\.05). In addition, positive affect and purpose commitment
were positively related (r=.49, p\.05). Moreover, these magnitudes changed little when
controlling for age, gender, or racial status (white or minority). These potential control
variables were unrelated to T1 or T2 levels of grit, and thus were not considered further in
the analyses.
None of the three variables exhibited significant mean-level change (all t’s \1.6,
p’s [.05, difference scores across the waves reported below), as may be expected given
the relatively short time frame, and lack of an intervention. However, individual-level
change was apparent in this sample. Over the semester, 19 % of participants changed at
least one standard deviation (using T1 metrics) on grit (M
=.00), along with 31 % for
similar changes on positive affect (M
=-.07) and 18 % for purpose commitment
9.2 Longitudinal Relations between Purpose and Grit
Next, we fit a cross-lagged model in MPlus 7.1 (Muthe
´n and Muthe
´n1998–2012) to
examine whether purpose and grit were linked longitudinally, with respect either to pre-
dictive or correlated change effects, represented in Fig. 1. Given the sample size, manifest
variables were employed instead of latent ones to avoid issues associated with having very
few participants relative to the number of parameters to be estimated with a latent model.
The cross-lagged model allows us to examine (a) whether initial levels of one construct
predict end-of-semester scores on another construct, controlling for initial levels of the
second construct, and (b) if residualized change scores between any two constructs cor-
relate, which would serve as evidence that the two tend to change together.
P. L. Hill et al.
Results are presented in the top half of Fig. 1. The primary results of interest are with
respect to the cross-lag predictions and the T2 correlation. Initial levels of grit failed to
predict end-of-semester levels of purpose commitment (B =.11), but purpose commit-
ment at T1 predicted higher grit at T2 (B =.21, p\.05) even when controlling for initial
levels. Moreover, the residualized scores at T2 were significantly correlated (r=.30,
p\.05), suggesting the potential that changes on these constructs co-occurred over the
course of the semester (i.e., that they change in tandem).
9.3 Longitudinal Relations Between Positive Affect and Grit
Figure 1, bottom panel, presents the same model fit for positive affect instead of purpose
commitment. Neither cross-lagged effects reached significance, although the T2 correla-
tion between residualized scores was significantly positive (r=.26, p\.05). In other
words, while initial levels of either construct failed to predict change on the other variable,
there was evidence that these variables may change in tandem.
9.4 Comparing Purpose and Positive Affect as Predictors of Grit
Finally, we again performed a multiple regression analysis to investigate the unique roles
of purpose and positive affect in predicting levels of grit; results are presented in the
middle and right sections of Table 2. Using the T1 data, results again suggested unique
significant roles for both purpose (B =.28) and positive affect (B =.30, both p’s \.05).
However, only purpose (B =.24) and not positive affect (B =-.14) significantly pre-
dicted T2 levels of grit, when controlling for initial levels. Therefore, both variables appear
uniquely predictive of grit when examined concurrently, but, similar to the findings from
the cross-lagged models, only purpose commitment appears predictive of changes in grit
across the semester.
Fig. 1 Results of cross-lagged models in Study 2 for examining the prospective relations between grit and
purpose commitment (top half) or positive affect (bottom half) across the semester. Regression coefficients
are reported as unstandardized betas with the standard errors in parentheses
An Examination of Purpose Commitment and Positive Affect
10 Discussion
The current studies sought to examine two potential correlates and catalysts for the
development of grit, a disposition demonstrated to predict success across a number of
important life domains (Duckworth et al. 2007; Duckworth and Quinn 2009; Eskreis-
Winkler et al. 2014). Namely, we examined whether individuals could build perseverance
from a foundation of positive affect or purpose commitment. Across the studies, three
findings were of particular importance. First, grittier individuals tended to report higher
levels of both purpose commitment and positive affect, establishing the basic relations
among these constructs, even when controlling for broader personality traits. Second, we
found that these effects held across two samples, using college students from the United
States and Canada to test these claims. Third, our cross-lagged models suggest that changes
in either positive affect or purpose commitment are likely to coincide with changes in grit.
The broader implications of our findings provide important advances to research on
purpose, positive affect, and grit. Indeed, this study again points to the value of finding a
purpose and direction for one’s life. The current findings provide evidence that committing
to a purpose in life may encourage individuals to develop those characteristics that help
them to achieve their long-term aims, such as a gritty disposition. Though this finding
might appear immediately intuitive, it is worth noting that this need not have been the case,
as grit could be easily demonstrated across multiple long-term pursuits (e.g., getting a
degree or job), without having a sense that these pursuits form a meaningful, self-defining
directive. For instance, while grittier students have been shown to perform better in a
spelling bee context (Duckworth et al. 2007), it is possible but not necessarily the case that
individuals view spelling performance as part of their direction for life in order for this
effect to occur. As such, it is a particularly valuable step for future research to have
demonstrated that purposeful individuals tend to score higher on this adaptive specific trait.
Purpose in life has been linked to having a more adaptive personality profile (e.g., being
conscientious, emotionally stable, etc.; Hill and Burrow 2012; Scheier et al. 2006; Siegler
and Brummett 2000). However the current work is among the first studies to look at the
relationship between purpose and personality traits longitudinally, though focused on grit
as the trait of interest. As such, Study 2 is encouraging for future research that characterizes
purpose in life as a catalyst rather than simply an outcome of development. Instead of
being viewed as ‘‘merely’’ a component of psychological well-being, our findings support
the notion that purpose serves a force that ‘‘organizes and stimulates goals, manages
behaviors, and provides a sense of meaning’’ (McKnight and Kashdan 2009). This research
provides another foothold from which to consider purpose commitment as a source for self-
agency and self-development.
In addition, these findings follow recent research on personality development and well-
being by providing an initial examination of how positive affect could induce greater
perseverance with time. While the prospective effects failed to reach significance, this is
potentially due to the short timeframe and small sample size. That said, it is important to
note we found initial evidence for a correlated change effect. Similar to past work, it
appears that personality and well-being may manifest with reciprocal relationships (Soto
2013), or at least change in tandem. Moreover, it will be valuable to examine the gener-
alizability of the effects, and whether they are specific to given aspects of subjective well-
being. An alternative approach would be to focus on the ‘‘broaden’’ notion of Fredrickson’s
(2001) perspective and test whether individuals higher on positive affect are better at
applying their grit across different domains, instead of simply whether they report higher
levels overall.
P. L. Hill et al.
Finally, these results provide valuable contributions to research on grit, above and
beyond demonstrating two potential concurrent and prospective correlates. First, Study 1
provided further evidence that the positives associated with grit are not merely reducible to
its conceptual and empirical links with the Big Five (see also Duckworth et al. 2007). In
line with the developmental focus of the current research, though, it remains a question for
future research to examine how grit fluctuates in tandem with the Big Five, particularly
with respect to whether it demonstrates unique trajectories with conscientiousness and its
facets. Second, the current study provides one of the first investigations into whether and
how grit fluctuates over time, demonstrating that even over the course of a semester,
students report reliable changes on the trait. That said, we also provide some initial evi-
dence that the dispositional trait, as one would expect, retains high rank-order consistency
over the span of a few months. Third, it provides some insights into how educators can help
their students increase on the disposition, indicating that it might prove more valuable to
help them commit to life goals than merely bolstering their well-being. The college years
may prove particularly valuable in this respect, as it is a period where students begin to
winnow down their options for potential life goals (e.g., Lu
¨dtke et al. 2009).
However, our studies are not without limitations. First, it would be valuable to replicate
Study 2 with a larger, more diverse sample with at least three time points, in order to allow
for broader generalizations, and more sophisticated methods (e.g., latent growth modeling)
for analyzing longitudinal change. Second, a more thorough investigation of the positive
emotions hypothesis could include a lengthier measure of positive affect, which more fully
assesses specific affects. That said, it is worth noting that in post hoc analyses, our findings
suggest that most of PANAS items were positively correlated with grit, suggesting that the
trait is positively associated with multiple specific affects. Third, it would be valuable to
supplement these findings with more objective markers of grit (e.g., performance on tasks
that require persistence), as well as test whether such outcomes are influenced after
experimentally manipulating a sense of purpose, in order to make stronger causal argu-
ments. That said, it is unlikely that alternative approaches would lead to different results,
and it remains an open question in general how reliably these constructs can be assessed
using alternative methods. These caveats aside, the current studies provide several initial
insights into the unique correlates of grit and its development over a semester. Specifically,
when developing grit, it appears as important if not more to know the direction one is
going, than to have a base of positive emotion from which to embark.
Acknowledgments This research was funded in part through an Insight Development Grant awarded to
the first and second authors by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Award
Number: 430-2013-000029).
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An Examination of Purpose Commitment and Positive Affect
... The presence of meaning in life may explain how an individual can still move forward despite various setbacks, serving as a source of strength in difficult situations (Steger & Kashdan, 2013). People with a higher level of meaning in life will find reasons to continue persevering (Hill et al., 2016;Makola, 2014). ...
... Taken together, the present findings contribute to the literature in several important ways. First, previous research showed that sense of meaning in life can motivate persistence and completion of difficult tasks using a small sample of students (Hill et al., 2016;Makola, 2014). The present findings extended this line of research by confirming this pattern using a representative sample of 15-year-old high school students in the Philippines. ...
Meaning in life has been linked with academic and psychological outcomes. However, limited studies investigated the role of socioeconomic background on the association between meaning in life and persistence in the academic context. The present study examined the moderating role of socioeconomic background on the positive link between meaning in life and persistence among Fili-pino adolescents. This study involved a representative sample of 15-year-old high school students (N = 4512) from low-income (n = 1065) and high-income (n = 3447) regions in the Philippines. Data were extracted from OECD's Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018. The results revealed that meaning in life positively and significantly predicted persistence. Additionally , adolescents from high-income regions exhibited greater levels of persistence scores. Moderation analysis revealed that the positive association between meaning in life and persistence was stronger among adolescents from low-income regions, explaining that meaning in life is a salient internal psychological resource when economic resources are scarce. The findings provided insights on the dynamic interplay between meaning in life and socioeconomic factors in strengthening persistence among young individuals in a developing nation such as the Philippines. Implications for psychoeducational programs and interventions are discussed.
... There were several reasons that motivated us to develop a framework for cultivating purpose as a pedagogy of care. First, abundant research has already shown the positive role of purpose in contributing to college students' mental health, wellbeing, self-efficacy, resilience, life satisfaction, hope, positive affect, identity development, contentment, happiness, academic identity, degree commitment, persistence, and retention (e.g., Benard, 1991;Bronk, Hill, Lapsley, Talib, & Finch, 2009;DeWitz, Woolsey, & Walsh, 2009;Hill, Burrow, & Bronk, 2016;Sharma & Yukhymenko-Lescroart, 2018;. ...
... Purpose as a Pedagogy of Care might further contribute to students' personal wellbeing (e.g., Burrow et al., 2010;Hill et al., 2016), college persistence (e.g., Sharma & Yukhymenko-Lescroart, 2018; and career development (e.g., Kosine et al., 2008). In the future, more studies are needed to examine the role of proposed pedagogical practices and possible changes in students' sense of purpose in contributing to their wellness, academic, and career outcomes. ...
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The goal of this paper was to instigate a discussion on cultivating students' sense of purpose as a critical humanizing practice that educators must strive to achieve. In this brief provocation, we presented a framework for cultivating purpose as a pedagogy of care that included five pedagogical processes: exploration, engagement, reflection, articulation, and actualization. We also outlined specific learning activities that educators can implement within technology-driven classrooms. In future, more studies are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed pedagogical processes in strengthening students' wellness, academic, and career outcomes in the context of their life's purpose. KEYWORDS Life Purpose; Wellness; Humanizing Approaches; Care; Meaning. SOMMARIO L'obiettivo di questo articolo è quello di stimolare una discussione sullo sviluppo del senso di scopo degli studenti come una pratica critica di umanizzazione che gli educatori devono sforzarsi di raggiungere. In questo breve intervento provocatorio, presentiamo un framework per sviluppare lo scopo come una pedagogia della cura che include cinque processi pedagogici: esplorazione, impegno, riflessione, articolazione e attualizzazione. Delineiamo anche specifiche attività di apprendimento che gli educatori possono implementare all'interno di classi guidate dalla tecnologia. In futuro, sono necessari più studi per valutare l'efficacia dei processi pedagogici proposti nel rafforzare il benessere degli studenti, i risultati accademici e di carriera nei contesti dei loro scopi di vita. Italian Journal of Educational Technology (Advance online publication) 2 PAROLE CHIAVE Scopo di Vita; Benessere; Approcci Umanizzanti; Cura; Significato. HOW TO CITE 7. Sharma, G., & Yukhymenko-Lescroart, M. (2022). A framework for cultivating purpose as a pedagogy of care. Italian Journal of Educational Technology, 30(1), 1-12.
... In positive psychology, grit is defined as "trait-level perseverance and passion for long-term goals" (Duckworth et al., 2007(Duckworth et al., , p. 1087. In recent years, grit has received much academic attention which can positively influence goal effort and achievement and social performance, and can lead to positive outcomes (Hill et al., 2016;Bonfiglio, 2017;Li et al., 2018). Unlike other cognitive factors, grit is developed through mindset, skills, and passion (Duckworth, 2016), tends to be more aware of future career directions, and also spends more time persistently searching for jobs (Kaufman and Duckworth, 2017). ...
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Job-search is considered as a developmental task for college students to move from campus to workplace. Based on the self-determination theory, 859 Chinese college students were selected as the study sample and hierarchical regression analysis was used to explore the effects of perseverance per severance of effort and consistency of interest on job-search intensity and clarity. The survey showed that the perseverance of effort has a significant positive effect on the job-search intensity, while it has no significant positive effect on job-search clarity. Consistency of interest has a significant negative effect on job-search intensity and a significant positive effect on job-search clarity. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed and the directions for future research are outlined in this study.
... Grit has also been found to be related to a number of indicators of well-being, such as (reduced) depression, life satisfaction, meaning in life, and positive affect across a range of cultures (Credé et al., 2017;Datu, King, et al., 2018;Datu, Yuen, et al., 2018;Disabato et al., 2018;Hill et al., 2014), as grittier individuals are more motivated and capable of pushing through adversity on their paths to reach life goals, more successful in achieving their goals, and more often engage in activities that give them a sense of purpose. Moreover, they report better overall physical health because they have better skills for managing their health (Sharkey et al., 2017). ...
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Grit, defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals, is investigated as a predictor of academic success and well-being. This trait may have special importance for musicians’ functioning as their lives revolve around practice routines and mastering their craft for years. However, there is a growing recognition that extreme perseverance may be maladaptive in some cases. Persistent overinvolvement in goal-oriented activities is related to compulsive overworking, conceptualized within the behavioral addiction framework as work and study addiction. A previous study showed that study addiction is relatively highly prevalent among young musicians and has a clearly negative effect on their functioning. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationships between grit, study addiction, and psychosocial functioning among music academy students. It was hypothesized that perseverance of effort is related to well-being, grade point average (GPA), and study addiction, and that it becomes maladaptive for individuals addicted to studying. A cross-sectional correlational study was conducted among 213 music academy students in Poland. Perseverance of effort was positively related to GPA and study addiction. The relationships between perseverance of effort and self-rated general health, and between perseverance of effort and quality of life, were moderated by study addiction. The results suggest that grit may become maladaptive perseverance in the cases of individuals at risk of study addiction. Based on these findings, further investigations of grit among musicians, as well as further studies of the negative aspects of grit in general, are warranted. Implications for prevention and intervention programs are discussed.
... In positive psychology, grit is defined as perseverance and passion toward one's pursuit of long-term goals [33]. Studies have demonstrated that grit can predict psychological well-being, such as higher positive emotions, and positively affect mental health and social performance [34,35]. Grit has also been shown to buffer mental distress caused by the fear of COVID-19 [36]. ...
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The COVID-19 outbreak has caused significant stress in our lives, which potentially increases frustration, fear, and resentful emotions. Managing stress is complex, but helps to alleviate negative psychological effects. In order to understand how the public coped with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, we used Macao as a case study and collected 104,827 COVID-19 related posts from Facebook through data mining, from 1 January to 31 December 2020. Divominer, a big-data analysis tool supported by computational algorithm, was employed to identify themes and facilitate machine coding and analysis. A total of 60,875 positive messages were identified, with 24,790 covering positive psychological themes, such as “anti-epidemic”, “solidarity”, “hope”, “gratitude”, “optimism”, and “grit”. Messages that mentioned “anti-epidemic”, “solidarity”, and “hope” were the most prevalent, while different crisis stages, key themes and media elements had various impacts on public involvement. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first-ever study in the Chinese context that uses social media to clarify the awareness of solidarity. Positive messages are needed to empower social media users to shoulder their shared responsibility to tackle the crisis. The findings provide insights into users’ needs for improving their subjective well-being to mitigate the negative psychological impact of the pandemic.
... In this context, variation in grit could result from genetic influences (i.e., with a positive association between parent and offspring grit), and environmental factors (e.g., social factors such as parents, siblings, peers, teachers, other adults, mass media), including potential psychological sources as Duckworth et al. (2007) considered. More precisely, evidence from empirical studies has shown that the following factors might have predictive ability for grit (Fernández et al., 2020): (a) life purpose commitment (Hill et al., 2016), (b) hope and search for meaning in life (Vela et al., 2015); (c) pursuing happiness in life (Von Culin et al., 2014); (d) perceived mastery school goal structure (Park et al., 2018); (e) achievement goal orientations (Akın & Arslan, 2014); (f) education-related goal commitment (Tang et al., 2019); (g) others-focused purpose, success-focused purpose, time spent in socializing, time spent in academic activities, and religious beliefs (Sriram et al., 2018); (h) belief in free will ; (i) reflecting on past failures (DiMenichi & Richmond, 2015); (j) growth mindset ; (k) physical activity (Gilchrist et al., 2018); (l) the mindfulness facets of acting with awareness and non-judging (Raphiphatthana et al., 2018); (m) sense of relatedness to parents, teachers, and friends (Datu, 2017); and (n) certain dimensions of parental behaviors (Howard et al., 2019). ...
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This study evaluates parental grit’s covariation with offspring grit and the moderating role of different parenting behaviors using an 11-country study of young adults between the ages of 18 and 35 (n = 20,008) and their parents (n = 5945). Results show that parental grit is associated with offspring’s grit with moderation of parenting present across the models presented. The study also highlights the direct association of various parenting dimensions with grit, especially the positive relation of parental control. These results have important implications for understanding young people’s grit development and learning mechanisms. Findings can serve as foundations for effective intervention programs and practices in this field designed to improve enthusiasm, interest, capacity for hard work, engagement, and motivation in the long run.
... Gritty individuals tend to adopt a growth mindset, where failures are seen as valued opportunities from which to learn and grow, to support their achievement endeavors (Duckworth & Eskreis-Winkler, 2013). This, in turn, naturally results in higher levels of personal and academic performance over time (Hill et al., 2016). Research suggests that grit plays a more critical role in academic achievement than 'natural talent' and fluid intelligence (Duckworth, 2016). ...
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Despite its popularity in practice, the Grit-O Scale has shown inconsistent factorial structures and differing levels of internal consistency in samples outside the USA. The validity of the Grit-O Scale in different contexts is, therefore, questionable. As such, the purpose of this paper was to determine whether the Grit-O Scale could be used as a valid and reliable measure to compare grit across different nations. Specifically, the aim was to investigate the factorial validity, reliability, and concurrent validity of the Grit-O Scale and to investigate measurement invariance across three national cohorts (Europe, the USA, and Hong Kong). Data were gathered from 1888 respondents stemming from one USA- (n=471), two Hong Kong- (n=361) and four European (n=1056) universities. A series of traditional CFA and less restrictive ESEM models were estimated and systematically compared to determine the best factorial form of the Grit-O Scale. The results showed that a bifactor ESEM model, with one general factor of overall grit and two specific factors (consistency of interest and perseverance of effort), fitted the data best, showed strong measurement invariance across the three samples, and showed itself to be a reliable measure. Furthermore, concurrent validity was established by showing that the three grit factors were directly and positively related to task performance. Meaningful latent comparisons between the three cultural cohorts could therefore be made. The results imply that cross-national comparisons of grit may only be problematic when traditional CFA approaches are favoured. In contrast, ESEM modelling approaches may compensate for cross-national differences in understanding grit and control for differences in the interpretation of the scale’s items. Therefore, the bifactor ESEM approach may be more appropriate for cross-cultural and cross-national comparison studies, as it allows for these differences to be meaningfully captured, modelled, and controlled for.
... Cronbach's alphas ranging from .73 to .83 for the total scale, from .73 to .79 for the consistency of interest subscale, and from .60 to .78 for the perseverance of effort subscale (Duckworth & Quinn, 2009). Both factors were strongly correlated (r=.59, p<.001), and they have a test-retest reliability between .61 and .68 in samples of students (Duckworth & Quinn, 2009;Griffin et al., 2016;Hill et al., 2016). Items of the scale were measured using a 5-point Likert scale, from 1 ("Not quite like me") to 5 ("Totally like me"). ...
Grit is defined as the tendency to pursue long-term goals with perseverance and effort, despite adversities or failures. In the context of sports, its effect has been studied using the original Short Grit Scale (Grit-S) without any adaptation. The aim of this study was to analyse the psychometric properties of Grit-S and to adapt to a sample of amateur runners. The sample consisted of 514 middle- and long-distance amateur runners. The results of a confirmatory analysis showed minimally acceptable validity and reliability values for the scale (α=.764), and for each factor (αperseverance=.806; αinterest=.731). Therefore, the psychometric properties of the Spanish version of the Short Grit Scale-Ru
This study tests whether employee participation in different types of physical activity benefits employees' training stress and career satisfaction perceptions differently and if grit, as a psychological resource, mediates this relationship. In two samples, we assess whether (1) regular physical activity; or (2) exercise to reach a competitive goal have similar associations with employee outcomes. In study 1, we find no relationship between employee engagement in regular physical activity and the outcomes. Moreover, grit's consistency of effort mediates the physical activity – training stress relationship, exacerbating employees' training stress. In study 2, employee exercise reduces career satisfaction and increases training stress. Importantly, grit's perseverance dimension increases their career satisfaction, and the consistency of interest dimension lessens training stress. Thus, we find evidence that employee participation in different types of physical activity leads to divergent outcomes, and that grit as a mediator only benefits employees exercising for a competitive goal.
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Positive and Negative Affect, and Grit as predictors of Happiness and Life Satisfaction Kamlesh Singh and Shalini Duggal Jha This study explores the relationship between the concepts of Happiness, Life Satisfaction, Positive and Negative Affect and Grit. Happiness is the average level of satisfaction over a specific period, the frequency and degree of positiveaffect manifestations or the extent to which an individual experiences positive emotional states, and the relative absence of negative affect. Life Satisfaction is one’s evaluation of satisfaction with life in general and Grit refers to the character strength of perseverance described in Positive Psychology. The study was carried out on 254 undergraduate students of technology. Results revealed that the concepts of Grit, Positive Affect, Happiness and Life Satisfaction are significantly positively correlated. Negative Affect showed a significantly negative correlation with Grit, Happiness and Life Satisfaction. Stepwise regression analysis showed that Positive Affect, Grit and Negative Affect together account for 19% of the variance in Life Satisfaction. Grit, Negative Affect and Positive Affect account for 11% of the total variance in Happiness
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In two cross-sectional studies, we explored the motivational orientations correlates of the character strength of grit and its two component facets: perseverance of effort and consistency of interests over time. Specifically, we examined how individual differences in grit are explained by distinct approaches to pursuing happiness in life: pleasure in immediately hedonically positive activities, meaning in activities that serve a higher, altruistic purpose, and engagement in attention-absorbing activities. In both samples, grit demonstrated medium-sized associations with an orientation toward engagement, small-to-medium associations with an orientation toward meaning, and small-to-medium (inverse) associations with an orientation toward pleasure. These motivational orientations differentially related to the two facets of grit: pursuing engagement was more strongly associated with perseverance of effort, whereas pursuing pleasure was more strongly (inversely) associated with consistency of interests over time. Collectively, findings suggest that individual differences in grit may derive in part from differences in what makes people happy.
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Remaining committed to goals is necessary (albeit not sufficient) to attaining them, but very little is known about domain-general individual differences that contribute to sustained goal commitment. The current investigation examines the association between grit, defined as passion and perseverance for long-term goals, other individual difference variables, and retention in four different contexts: the military, workplace sales, high school, and marriage. Grit predicted retention over and beyond established context-specific predictors of retention (e.g., intelligence, physical aptitude, Big Five personality traits, job tenure) and demographic variables in each setting. Grittier soldiers were more likely to complete an Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) selection course, grittier sales employees were more likely to keep their jobs, grittier students were more likely to graduate from high school, and grittier men were more likely to stay married. The relative predictive validity of grit compared to other traditional predictors of retention is examined in each of the four studies. These findings suggest that in addition to domain-specific influences, there may be domain-general individual differences which influence commitment to diverse life goals over time.
In this article, the author describes a new theoretical perspective on positive emotions and situates this new perspective within the emerging field of positive psychology. The broaden-and-build theory posits that experiences of positive emotions broaden people's momentary thought-action repertoires, which in turn serves to build their enduring personal resources, ranging from physical and intellectual resources to social and psychological resources. Preliminary empirical evidence supporting the broaden-and-build theory is reviewed, and open empirical questions that remain to be tested are identified. The theory and findings suggest that the capacity to experience positive emotions may be a fundamental human strength central to the study of human flourishing.
In this article, the author describes a new theoretical perspective on positive emotions and situates this new perspective within the emerging field of positive psychology. The broaden-and-build theory posits that experiences of positive emotions broaden people's momentary thought-action repertoires, which in turn serves to build their enduring personal resources, ranging from physical and intellectual resources to social and psychological resources. Preliminary empirical evidence supporting the broaden-and-build theory is reviewed, and open empirical questions that remain to be tested are identified. The theory and findings suggest that the capacity to experience positive emotions may be a fundamental human strength central to the study of human flourishing.
This volume integrates and makes sense of the growing body of theoretical and empirical research conducted on purpose across the lifespan. It opens with a comprehensive yet detailed discussion of the definitions of purpose most commonly used in studies on the topic. In addition to defining the construct, the author also discusses its philosophical roots and distinguishes it from related concepts, including meaning, goals, and ultimate concerns. This volume discusses the disparate perspectives on the construct and addresses the tendency to position purpose in the broader frame of positive psychology. It synthesizes distinct strands of research on purpose across the lifespan, it explores studies on the daily and longer-term experience of a purposeful existence, and it delves deeply into the wide range of measurement tools that have been used to assess the purpose construct. Further, it examines the prevalence and forms of purpose among diverse groups of youth and discusses the developmental trajectory of the construct. Other topics discussed include the central role of purpose in supporting optimal well-being and positive youth development. The book closes with empirically-supported steps adults, educators, and mentors can take to effectively and intentionally foster purpose among young people and makes recommendations for future research on the topic. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
In this review, we discuss three questions about the importance of studying purpose as a construct relevant to adolescence. We consider how finding a purpose can help youth answer questions such as “Who am I?” and “Where am I going?” and summarize the benefits of finding a purpose during adolescence. Purposeful youth are more agentic and driven in their lives, as well as happier and less susceptible to risks common in adolescence. We conclude by identifying areas that merit study, including the need to understand which contexts best scaffold the development of purpose among youth and the need for experimental research to strengthen causal claims.