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Angela Lee Duckworth, A Psychologist

Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist, challenges the reigning ideas that IQ among other factors such social intelligence, good looks and physical health is not the main predictor of success. In her studies which entailed identifying successful individuals amongst kids and adults in challenging settings and trying to find out the reasons behind their success, Angela discovered that Grit was the most significant predictor of success (AL Duckworth). Grit is, however, depicted as “anti IQ” by the media and other publicity avenues. In as much there is no competition, there is an existing tension between grit and talent. Undoubtedly, grit is great. In this current standardized testing society, Grit reminds us that focusing on potentials and abilities may hinder us from other factors that are essential for success.

Grit is a true secret to success. In her TEDTalk, Angela states that talent does not make an individual gritty, “In fact, in our data, grit is usually unrelated or even inversely related to measures of talent,” she said. She puts emphasis on the importance of cultivating character strengths such as social intelligence, kindness among others and putting the best ideas to the test. Despite the fact that it is a test for success, willingness to fail equally important because the lessons learnt will help in starting over again.

Angela Lee’s research was worthwhile but related to several previous studies which she referred to. Nonetheless, the media and some critics are treating her work as totally new thus undermining the work of the hardworking researchers who came before her. Perseverance, hope and passion are common research areas for many psychologists. Dr. Brent Roberts for instance, researched on conscientiousness (Brent W Roberts). I believe grit is closely knit with industriousness as Dr. Brent points out in his study which entails starting something and not relenting until it is finished. Grit not only involves consistency of interests but resilience and persistence just as it is in industriousness. Angela has clearly cited external works in her journal articles – a clear indication that her research is based on existing knowledge.

Marcus Crede and his team made analyses of over eighty separate studies of Angela Duckworth and others. He claims that the role and strength of grit has been highly exaggerated. According to him, Angela is giving already known information (Marcus Crede). He relates grit to conscientiousness and argues that it is not open to change particularly in adults, contrary to Angela’s suggestion. Angela Duckworth and other researchers counter argue that in as much as grit may be a component of conscientiousness, it is different because it has an added factor known as “consistency of effort” (Kamenetz). Gritty people have a single passion that they pursue on a daily basis deliberately until they master it.

Angela Duckworth’s research is substantial and acceptable just as her results and findings are. She is totally transparent and accepts the fact that she does not know everything. She is also totally open to criticism. “I aspire to be a scientist who remains open to criticism because I can’t possibly be 100% right about everything!” (Kamenetz). She however does not mind sharing the ideas she has on building grit. She actually believes that Dr. Carol Dweck’s ‘growth mindset’ idea that learning ability is not fixed, rather, it can change with effort as a way of building grit in children. She gives an example of her seventh grade students. Their IQ did not determine their success levels after all because even some of her smartest students had bad scores in IQ tests.

I can totally relate with Angela Duckworth’s testimony on grit as a predictor of success. Growing up, I used to hear my older siblings and relatives complain of how tough school was for them. This really got into my head such that by the time I was starting school, I believed that I was not going to do any better than they did. My grades were so poor from fist grade to third grade. My classmates even bullied me and termed me as stupid. My turning point came at the end of third grade when my teacher encouraged me to explore more interesting ways of learning such as abacus for mathematics, flashcards for spelling, songs and riddles for science facts among others. She even offered to give me remedial classes after school and during weekends. My parents were very supportive and they helped me when they could. With time, learning got more interesting. My attitude about school changed. I found more pleasure in putting extra effort into my work and reaping good fruits of my intense labor. I remember when I first topped my class in fifth grade; all the bullies befriended me and even sought my help in solving certain problems. It was not an easy journey but I pulled through all because of grit.

Angela’s work may be facing a lot of critic by various researchers but there is a whole lot of people who are in support of her argument including me. I believe that it takes perseverance and focus to achieve goals and dreams. IQ is just an added advantage that cannot be relied upon fully to yield success. Putting more focus on our innate abilities makes us deviate from concentrating on that which is most vital to success- grit.

Works Cited

AL Duckworth, C Peterson,MD Matthews,DR Kelly. "Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long term Goals ." Journal of Personality and social Psychology (2007): 1087.

Brent W Roberts, Oleksandr S Chernyshenko, Stephen Stark, Lewis R Goldberg. "the structure of conscientiousness:an empirical investigation based on seven major personality questionnaires." Personnel Psychology (2005): 103-159.

Kamenetz, Anya. MacArthur ‘Genius’ Angela Duckworth Responds To A New Critique of Grit. 25 may 2016. 6 november 2018 .

Kaufman, Scott Barry. Review of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. 10 may 2016. 6 november 2018 .

Marcus Crede, MC Tynan, PD Harms. "Much Ado about Grit:A Meta-analytic Synthesis of the Grit Literatuire." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2017): 337-346.

“Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” The TEDTalk with Angela Lee Duckworth

Freelance Writer

I’m a freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Boston University. My work has been featured in publications like the L.A. Times, U.S. News and World Report, Farther Finance, Teen Vogue, Grammarly, The Startup, Mashable, Insider, Forbes, Writer (formerly Qordoba), MarketWatch, CNBC, and USA Today, among others.