‘Grit’ Adds Little to Prediction of Academic Achievement

Medical Xpress, February 11, 2016

Personality characteristics–especially conscientiousness–have previously been shown to have a significant but moderate influence on academic achievement. However, a new study from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, suggests that ‘grit’, defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals, adds little to the prediction of school achievement.

The study authors point out that previous research, indicating small associations between grit and academic achievement, has relied on highly selected samples such as spelling competition finalists and teachers, which may have led to stronger associations between grit and achievement in later life.

This new study, which used a sample of 4,500 16-year-old twins, found that aspects of personality predict around six per cent of the differences between GCSE results and, after controlling for these characteristics, grit alone only predicted 0.5 per cent of the differences between GCSE results.

According to the researchers these findings, published today in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, warrant concern given the present emphasis placed by education policymakers on teaching grit to pupils, both in the UK and in the US.

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This new study found that grit was about as heritable as other personality traits, with DNA differences explaining around a third of the differences between children in levels of grit.

The study’s first author, Kaili Rimfeld from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, said: ‘Until now there has been very little evidence about the origins of differences between children in grit and its influence on academic achievement, despite the fact that it plays an important role in UK and US education policies.

‘Our study suggests that grit adds little to the prediction of academic achievement when other personality factors are taken into account.’

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