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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
... Asimismo, investigaciones previas muestran los efectos profundos y duraderos que tienen estas experiencias sobre el bienestar personal (González-Hernández et al., 2019;Núñez et al., 2017), la felicidad (Alarcón & Rodríguez, 2015) y la salud psico-física (Rhodes & Kates, 2015). Diversos estudios han señalado la relación entre PV y el afecto positivo, uno de los componentes del disfrute (e. g., Hill et al., 2016;Pfund & Hill, 2018). La experiencia de afecto positivo predispone a los individuos a sentir que sus vidas son significativas. ...
... Es importante señalar que los estudios previos que indagaron la relación entre afecto positivo y PV consideraron al primero como componente del bienestar, sin contemplarlo en relación a una actividad en particular (e. g., Hill et al., 2016;Pfund & Hill, 2018). De todos modos, los hallazgos del presente estudio concuerdan con la idea de que es a través de la plenitud y el crecimiento personal, que se encuentra en la actividad, que el disfrute experimentado en ella repercute en el sentido vital, un constructo muy vinculado al PV (Delle et al., 2011;Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002). ...
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Objetivo. Poner a prueba un modelo predictivo de la identificación de propósito vital (PV) a partir de las experiencias de disfrute, la realización personal y la claridad en el autoconcepto. Método. Participaron 511 adolescentes (13 a 19 años y de ambos sexos) escolarizados del Área Metropolitana Bonaerense. Se utilizaron cuestionarios de autoinforme para medir las variables estudiadas. Además, se realizó un Modelo de Ecuaciones Estructurales con el método de estimación de Mínimos Cuadrados Generalizados. Resultados. El afecto positivo y el involucramiento en la actividad favorita presentan un efecto indirecto sobre el PV, mediado por la realización personal. La claridad en el autoconcepto y el sentido de realización personal tienen un efecto directo sobre el PV.
... Self-compassion and grit are constructs that are related to indices of well-being (Hill et al., 2016;Li et al., 2018;Neff, 2003;Neff et al., 2007;Odou & Brinker, 2015); however, there is a paucity of research on the relationship between self-compassion and grit. In the context of social anxiety, self-compassion has been shown to have positive benefits (Arch et al., 2013;Harwood & Kocovski, 2017;Leary et al., 2007;Stevenson et al., 2019), but there is little research on the impact of grit on social anxiety specifically. ...
... Early research found that grit predicted success for Ivy League undergraduates, higher grade point averages, retention in two classes of the United States Military Academy, and ranking in a national spelling bee (Duckworth et al., 2007). More recently, grit has been examined in relation to mental health outcomes in clinical and nonclinical samples and similar to self-compassion, it has been linked to increased well-being, positive affect, and purpose commitment (Hill et al., 2016;Li et al., 2018). In an experimental study, effort-related autonomic nervous system activity was assessed during a self-paced effort task (Silvia et al., 2013). ...
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Self-compassion and grit are each positively associated with adaptive characteristics, and negatively associated with psychological distress. Limited research exists on the relationship between grit and self-compassion, and there is a paucity of research on the impact of grit on social anxiety. Undergraduate participants ( N = 184) completed online measures of grit, self-compassion, well-being, and psychological distress. They also recalled a recent social situation in which they felt judged and reported state levels of self-compassion. As hypothesized, grit (specifically the perseverance subscale) was related to greater state self-compassion regarding the social judgment situation participants recalled. Further, there was support for self-compassion as a mediator of the relationship between grit and state anxiety. However, how self-compassionate participants reported being in their social stressor was best predicted by trait self-compassion and state anxiety. Finally, the type of social judgment situation mattered: participants were less self-compassionate when they recalled performance situations compared to social interaction situations. Findings suggest continued research on how grit and self-compassion may influence one another over time in the context of social judgment.
... Entre los debates incipientes está principalmente el papel de la determinación como un factor de personalidad clave para entender el éxito de la carrera emprendedora (Arco-Tirado et al., 2019;AlIssa, 2020;Duckworth et al., 2007;Duckworth y Gross, 2014;Hill et al., 2016;Mueller et al., 2017;Salisu, et al. 2020;Von Culin et al., 2014). ...
... de autodeterminación y el concepto Grit (agallas en inglés), tienen un papel fundamental en la construcción de emprendimientos de éxito.(Arco-Tirado et al., 2019;Boyer et al., 2020;Boyer et al., 2020;Duckworth y Gross, 2014; Fidel Edgard, 2017;Hill et al., 2016;Lawrence, 2016;Mooradian et al., 2016;Smith, 2013;Vodă y Florea, 2019).El modelo integrador propuesto por HuiChen et al. (2018), mediante el análisis de factores establece las correlaciones existentes entre las diferentes variables mediante un sistema de ecuaciones estructurales, Figura 20. Sistema de ecuaciones estructurales para definir el proceso emprendedor. ...
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In Spain, public development, and economic promotion agencies, as well as confidential business training centers, spend substantial amounts of money on entrepreneurship promotion programs. This thesis starts with an extensive review of the literature and the state of the art to identify which criteria are key to successful entrepreneurial projects. On the other hand, it analyzes the contents of the programs of the main development agencies and private centers, and on the other hand, it interviews the actors involved in order to test which factors they consider key for entrepreneurial success, namely, entrepreneurs in nascent stage, entrepreneurs in new stage, entrepreneurs in consolidated stage, people in charge of public and private training centers, trainers of these centers. Based on these analyses, the aim is to verify whether entrepreneurship programs focus on developing those key factors that once allowed consolidated entrepreneurs to consolidate successful entrepreneurial projects. The results indicate that the factors most valued by successful entrepreneurs are those related to personal and professional self-knowledge, such as self-awareness of one's own motivations and objectives, the promotion of self-efficacy and self-determination when it comes to entrepreneurship, once again highlighting the power of attitudes and beliefs in line with the theoretical review. These results show the scarce presence of these factors in training programs in favor of other types of contents of a more technical nature and the promotion of generic competencies. The research provides new information about the entrepreneurial process, proposing a new previous phase aimed at self-knowledge, and highlights how the way of interacting playfully with the environment could help in the development of viable business ideas, establishing a set of recommendations and a roadmap to increase the overall effectiveness of these programs, in order to achieve viable business projects and maximize the resources invested.
... Past research relies heavily on cross-sectional data. Studies that have assessed grit longitudinally tend to have short temporal ranges, from only 4 to 15 months (Hill et al., 2016;Raphiphatthana et al., 2018;Wolff et al., 2020). Tang et al.'s (2019) study with middle school children is an exception, lasting 4 years. ...
... Early studies report positive effects of educational training programs on children's academic achievement (see Alan et al., 2019). From the interventions that have been empirically tested, several likely mechanisms/practices are implicated in improved grit scores, such as: reflecting on past failures, improving growth mindset, committing to goals, establishing a purpose, and engaging in deliberate practice (Hill et al., 2016;Hwang & Nam, 2021). A recent study reported promising results from a study across 52 state-run elementary schools in Turkey wherein a grit-based intervention program had positive impacts on academic outcomes as well as perseverance in a real-effort task (Alan et al., 2019). ...
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This study assessed whether self-perceived grit is malleable and, if so, how it evolved during the educational journey of students at a four-year military college. By design, the military learning environment tests students’ perseverance and determination while teaching lessons in goal commitment and development of purpose, both empirically documented predictors of grit (Hwang and Nam in Multidisciplinary perspectives on grit, Springer, pp 77–92, 2021). Utilizing longitudinal survey data collected over four years, we examined how self-perceived grit changed over time. Results indicate that perceptions of grit dropped during the first year, which is designed to be grueling and challenging and to deconstruct students’ perceptions of perseverance and then build them up in the context of the collective. However, as students go through their four-year training, their self-perceptions of grit strengthen and become more robust. These empirical results provide support for the hypothesis that well-designed educational interventions and learning environments may help to foster grit.
... One limitation of this meta-analysis is that over 90% of the extant literature comprises cross-sectional studies, leading its authors to conclude that "it is hardly possible to ascertain the direction of effect among grit and SWB [i.e., subjective well-being]" (p. 1210). 1 Indeed, to the authors' knowledge, only one study has explored the bidirectional relation between grit and subjective well-being and found no lagged effects between grit and positive affect (Hill et al., 2016). However, this study relied on a small sample (N = 165) of undergraduates and included only two waves of data measured 3 months apart. ...
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In cross-sectional research, subjective well-being and grit are found to be positively correlated. Their mutually reinforcing effects are particularly relevant for youth entering early adolescence because, during this developmental period, both well-being and grit have been shown to predict consequential outcomes later in life. However, their mutual relation has not yet been investigated in early adolescence. This study, therefore, examined the possibility of a virtuous cycle linking subjective well-being and grit during early adolescence. Self-report questionnaires of grit and subjective well-being were completed by N = 5291 children in China (47.6% girls; initial Mage = 9.69, SDage = 0.59) on six occasions over 3 academic years. In random-intercept cross-lagged panel models (RI-CLPMs), within-person changes in grit predicted within-person changes in subjective well-being 6 months later, and vice versa. Notably, analyses revealed an asymmetry in this cycle: paths from subjective well-being to grit were stronger and more reliable than the converse. Likewise, facet-level analyses showed that the predictive power of the perseverance component (of grit) and the affective component (of subjective well-being), respectively, was greater than the passion and cognitive components, respectively. These findings highlight the potential of boosting happiness for catalyzing positive youth development and, in addition, foreground the utility of studying these composite constructs at the facet level.
... Elevated levels of grit in EFL teachers correspond to sustained enthusiasm and passion for teaching, fostering higher FLTE. Grittier individuals, with their positive attributions and growth mindsets (Hill, Burrow, and Bronk 2016), tend to view challenges as avenues for growth, boosting efficacy and teaching enjoyment. In addition, this association can be explained by Csikszentmihalyi's (1990) theory of flow. ...
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The purpose of this research was to explore the reciprocal associations between teachers’ grit, foreign language teaching enjoyment (FLTE), and work engagement using a cross-lagged panel design. In addition, the role of teacher self-efficacy as the predictor in the model was also examined. A sample of 786 English as foreign language (FL) teachers were recruited as the participants. The results of a cross-lagged analysis showed the reciprocal relations between the constructs. More gritty teachers at first assessment point showed further FLTE at the second point. Also, teachers who demonstrated further engagement at Time 1 showed greater degrees of FLTE at Time 2. Furthermore, higher levels of FLTE at Time 1 also led to greater levels of grit and engagement at Time 2. Finally, teacher self-efficacy positively predicated grit, FLTE, and work engagement just at Time 1, revealing that teacher self-efficacy failed to significantly predict the three latent constructs five months later.
... 84 Whenever possible, teachers need to avoid pushing students beyond their cognitive abilities, consider the actual situation of a student, and provide clear and organised learning tasks to ensure positive affect is passed on to them, create an enjoyable classroom atmosphere, and further improve the interest of students in participating in classroom learning. 85 Third, academic self-efficacy plays a crucial role in the pathway of a growth mindset affecting ADG. Consequently, schools and parents can assist students in becoming self-motivated and self-directed growth-mindset individuals, directing them to develop accurate internal attributions and improving their sense of academic efficacy. ...
Purpose: With a growth mindset, individuals focus on the process of growth, actively seek challenges, recognise and accept failures, and apply more effort and monitor themselves to overcome difficulties. Doing so translates into excellent academic performance. However, it has not yet been fully clarified how growth mindset affects academic delay of gratification (ADG) and the mechanisms underlying their interactions. In this study, grit and academic self-efficacy were tested as mediating mechanisms between growth mindset and the ADG using a serial mediation effect model based on self-determination theory (SDT). Methods: A cross-sectional design was conducted with 759 Chinese junior high school students using the following tools: Growth Mindset Scale, Short Grit Scale, Academic Self-efficacy Scale, and Academic Delay of Gratification Scale. Hypotheses were tested using structural equation modeling. Results: The results showed that: (1) by gender and grade control, growth mindset indicated a positive significance in the prediction of ADG; (2) grit and academic self-efficacy played a mediating role in the influence of a growth mindset on the ADG. Grit and academic self-efficacy also have a serial mediation effect between growth mindset and ADG. Conclusion: The results showed that a growth mindset does not only directly affect the ADG but also indirectly affects it through grit and academic self-efficacy. Based on SDT, this study further revealed the potential mechanism of a growth mindset affecting the ADG. Furthermore, it provides practical guidance for the cultivation of ADG for junior high school students.
This chapter explores the lived experience of a clinical practitioner who navigates the steps to become a practitioner who develops a research project and applies the research back into their professional field: a pracademic. It is written through the lens of a practicing psychotherapist, but many aspects will generalise to other types of practitioners. Practitioner researcher is used in this chapter to describe this activity. As a clinical psychotherapist working with students, in a university setting, with an abundance of research expertise and inspirational research projects with global reach, it would be easy to think the path to being a practitioner researcher would be straightforward. However, the reality of the lived experience is more complex.I identify some likely challenges and strategies, providing a starting point for clinical practitioners who aspire to becoming researchers, including the barriers encountered, ways of building relational and personal resilience, the importance of collaboration, networking, and informal conversations, along with the role of mentors and critical friends. In addition, the practical psychological techniques offered, to help manage the brain’s “negativity bias” (Rozin and Royzman, Pers Soc Psychol Rev 5(4):296–320, 2001) and imposter phenomenon (Clance PR, Imes SA. Psychotherapy 15(3):241–247, 1978. and the key points are useful tools for any pracademic. The chapter also looks at how to balance and harness the different energies and focus required to engage with research and manage a practitioner caseload, and how the two can complement each other.KeywordsPracademicPersonal resilienceRelational resilienceClinical practitionerProfessional identityImposter phenomenonProfessional networkMentoringProfessional development
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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.