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Grit Relates to Higher Well-Being

Grit refers to the motivation to keep persevering towards one’s goals despite difficulties. Its components are perseverance of effort, (the tendency to continue working toward a goal despite difficulties), and consistency of interest, (having a stable knowledge of one’s interests over the long-term). Grit has been studied as a predictor of high achievement in various aspects of life (Duckworth et al., 2007). For instance, it has been shown to predict success over the effects of IQ, self-control and conscientiousness, among others (Duckworth et al., 2007; Duckworth 2006; Reed et al. 2013).

Researcher Mia Vainio hypothesized that higher grit would relate to higher levels of well-being. She divided well-being in 3 aspects: psychological well-being, life satisfaction, and harmony in life.

To test this, she conducted a simple experiment: participants would complete an online survey which measured their grit, psychological well-being, life satisfaction, and harmony in life, as well as their sense of coherence (or consistency of self) and authenticity, which were thought to be possible mediators of the relationship between grit and well-being.

*Sense of coherence= the sense that the world and oneself in the world are comprehensible, manageable, and meaningful (Antonovsky, 1987).

The grit scale that was used includes 2 subscales: one that measures the component of perseverance of effort, through items such as “I have overcome setbacks to conquer an important challenge”; and another one that measures consistency of interest, through items such as “I often set a goal but later choose to pursue a different one” (this item is reverse coded).

396 participants aged 20-68 completed this survey online after receiving information and providing consent.

The results of the statistical analyses revealed that grit was strongly related to psychological well-being, life satisfaction, and harmony in life. That is, participants who displayed more grit also displayed higher levels of well-being.The mediators of sense of coherence and authenticity also showed strong positive correlations with all three aspects of well-being.

Sense of coherence and authenticity significantly mediated the relationships between grit and all three aspects of well-being: partially in the case of grit and psychological well-being, fully in the case of grit and life satisfaction, and fully in the case of harmony in life.

Regarding these mediators, the author reflects that "grittiness in goal pursuits requires both a sense that the world is coherent and an authentic connection with the self in order for it to fully benefit well-being" (Vainio & Daukantaite, 2015).

Both sense of coherence and authenticity seem likely to develop over time. Authenticity in particular, the author notes, most likely grows as one's self-concept becomes more consistent with maturity.

Mia Vainio approached the topic of this investigation and understood its results through the organismic valuing process theory, which suggests that "people are naturally motivated to grow towards their highest potential" (Vainio & Daukantaite, 2015).

Carl Rogers, the father of this theory, viewed well-being as self-actualization and suggested that:

"Fully functioning individuals are motivated to move towards their ‘true self’ (authenticity), can be in touch with their own emotions, direct themselves towards meaningful goals and pursuits, and uphold prosocial values encouraging a harmonious existence with themselves and others" (Rogers 1961, 1964 cited in Vainio & Daukantaite, 2015).

In this way, grit is understood as a natural growth motivation towards one's higher potential (Vainio & Daukantaite, 2015).

It has been shown that grit increases with age, and that grit can be learnt and practiced.

In their recent paper Enhancing Grit: Possibility and Intervention Strategies, Hwang & Nam (2021) shed light on cognitive, behavioral and emotional intervention strategies that have the potential to increase grit. These include:

Teaching grit, reflecting on one's grit, adopting a growth mindset, setting long and short term goals, promoting brain development, increasing deliberate practices, preventing the overuse of media, overcoming negative emotions such as stress and frustration in the process of exercising grit, and promoting interest discovery through flow experiences (Hwang & Nam, 2021).

Grit can make a huge impact in your life. As Vainio states, in reference to a motivational study conducted by Von Culin et al., "a gritty person may be motivated to pursue their highest potentials through perseverance and engagement in personally meaningful goals over a long period".

Main Source:

Vainio, M. & Daukantaitė, D. (2015). Grit and Different Aspects of Well-Being: Direct and Indirect Effects via Sense of Coherence and Authenticity. Journal of Happiness Studies, 17: 2119-2147

Other sources:

Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087–1101.

Duckworth, A. L. (2006). Intelligence is not enough: Non-IQ predictors of achievement. Dissertation Abstracts International, 67(3-B), 1741.

Reed, J., Pritschet, B. L., & Cutton, D. M. (2013). Grit, conscientiousness, and the transtheoretical model of change for exercise behaviour. Journal of Health Psychology, 18(5), 612–619.

Hwang, M. & Nam, J. K. (2021). Enhancing Grit: Possibility and Intervention Strategies. In book: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Grit, Contemporary Theories, Assessments, Applications and Critiques (pp.77-93).

Von Culin, K. R., Tsukayama, E., & Duckworth, A. L. (2014). Unpacking grit: Motivational correlates of perseverance and passion for long-term goals. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 9(4), 1–7.

Article written by Maggie Stilman.

The Considerable Journal's mission is to bring relevant scientific findings closer to people who seek evidence-based paths to integral well-being, by providing briefed, straightforward expositions of scientific research regarding mental and physical health, relationships, finances, habits, and more.

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