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Description: You have very likely heard about grit? Grit is perseverance and a tendency to push on through adversity rather than simply giving up. Grit is often presented as something we should all get more of, but other than being told to get more we are not told how to go about doing that. The impression is that grit is something like a general trait that some people have more or less of than others. To be fair, Angela Duckworth, who initiated our recent research interest in grit does suggest that we can add to our grit profile but a broader understanding of grit and what it is related to (and different from) would be very helpful. So, is grist a general trait? What else is grit associated with and what of grit and these related things can we work on? Think about your own hypotheses in relation to these questions and then read the article liked below to find out what a recent Canadian study has to say on these related matters.

Source: Do People Who Have Grit Have It All The Time? Christopher Bergland, The Athlete’s Way, Psychology Today.

Date: May 8, 2019

Photo Credit: Christopher Bergland.

Article Link:

The distinction between traits and states can be an important one for many reasons but quite important is the impact of our understandings of and beliefs about traits and states. Generally, we see states as transient and more open to influence than are traits which are seen as more constitutive of who we are and less open to change. This sort of dichotomous thinking is, on its own, sometime problematic. In terms of grit the research discussed in the linked article represents a first step towards unpacking how grit plays out in our lives and that could potentially be very helpful for both our understanding of the nature of grit and for developing action plans to change what we can for the better in the various areas related to grit. So, grit is more specific than general, and it is related to issues of maladaptive perfectionism. As well the idea that a growth mindset is significantly more adaptive than focusing on finding and pursuing as passion is potentially quite helpful as well. The bits of this study start to show us the potential advantages of broadening our understanding of concepts like grit and how they do or could play out in our lives. An important new line of research for sure. Oh, and here is a useful term: wabi-sabi, which is a Japanese term for accepting transience and imperfection (think about how that might relate to ikigai).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is grit a state or trait or is this not the right sort of question to ask?
  2. What is maladaptive perfectionism and what sorts of things does it impact?
  3. How might we understand the interplay of grit, maladaptive perfectionism and growth mindset?

References (Read Further):

Cormier, D. L., Dunn, J. G., & Dunn, J. C. (2019). Examining the domain specificity of grit. Personality and Individual Differences, 139, 349-354.

Eskreis-Winkler, L., Duckworth, A. L., Shulman, E. P., & Beal, S. (2014). The grit effect: Predicting retention in the military, the workplace, school and marriage. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 36.

Larkin, P., O’Connor, D., & Williams, A. M. (2016). Does grit influence sport-specific engagement and perceptual-cognitive expertise in elite youth soccer?. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 28(2), 129-138.

Soenens, B., Vansteenkiste, M., Luyten, P., Duriez, B., & Goossens, L. (2005). Maladaptive perfectionistic self-representations: The mediational link between psychological control and adjustment. Personality and Individual Differences, 38(2), 487-498.

Stoeber, J., & Otto, K. (2006). Positive conceptions of perfectionism: Approaches, evidence, challenges. Personality and social psychology review, 10(4), 295-319.

Dweck, C. (2015). Carol Dweck revisits the growth mindset. Education Week, 35(5), 20-24.

Treviranus, Jutta (2010) The value of imperfection: The Wabi-Sabi Principle in aesthetics and learning. In: 7th Annual Open Education Conference, 2010, Barcelona, Spain.