Children can inherit ‘grit’ also like other personality traits — like good looks — from their parents, find researchers. However, they added that ‘grit’ alone will not get them good grades in schools. ‘Grit’ adds little to the prediction of academic achievement when other personality factors are taken into account, they explained.
According to Wikipedia, ‘grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal, coupled with powerful motivation’.
“Until now, there has been very little evidence about the origins of differences between children in grit and its influence on academic achievement,” said study’s first author Kaili Rimfeld from King’s College London.
The research claims to be the first to investigate the genetic and environmental origins of grit — as well as its influence on academic achievement — within a large representative British sample of 16-year-olds.
In the study, the ‘Grit-S’ questionnaire was used to measure perseverance of effort and consistency of interest of 4,500 participants at the age of 16. Pairs of twins rated the extent to which they agreed with statements such as “Setbacks don’t discourage me” — for calculating perseverance — and “I have a difficulty maintaining my focus on projects that take more than a few months to complete” — to calculate consistency of interest. In addition to measuring the association between grit and academic achievement, the researchers also analysed the extent to which grit is ‘heritable’ — the extent to which genes contribute to differences between people in their levels of grit.
According to the team, the findings — published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology — warrant concern, given the present emphasis placed by education policymakers on teaching grit to pupils. “This does not mean that teaching children to be grittier cannot be done, or that it is not beneficial. Clearly, children will face challenges where qualities of perseverance are likely to be advantageous,” Rimfeld stated.