Motivation and emotion/Book/2021/Perseverance

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search
What is perseverance, what are its effects, and how can it be developed?

Overview[edit | edit source]

A Human Displaying Perseverance
Figure 1. Individuals will face challenges that require perseverance

The translation for Perseverance in Latin is "Continue steadfastly, persist"

Many people will give up on a task that feels insurmountable. However, why do some individuals become successful compared to another person of the same level? And why do some people with high level of ability achieve mediocrity? Duckworth et al. (2007) posits that individuals who set themselves long-term goals will persevere and navigate through distractions, difficulties and obstacles for long periods of time to achieve a goal. Individuals who seek immediate gratification are linked to poorer outcomes (Hoerger et al., 2011). This can be caused by ego-depletion, which affects their capacity to act wisely (Baumeister et al., 2007).

There are associations between high scores of perseverance and positive life outcomes: work, academic, achievement. The theories of motivation can explain quite well the considerations people have to make, and the needs competencies that have to be fulfilled to flourish. The school system, including its emphasis on mindsets, delayed gratification, and learning environments, will be the best strategy for fostering perseverance..

Focus questions
  • What is Perseverance?
  • What are the effects of perseverance?
  • Social cognitive theory and Self-determination [This is not a question.]
  • How can Perseverance be developed?

Perseverance[edit | edit source]

Perseverance (Grit) is a desire for long-term goal outcomes. Gritty people have strong work ethic, high interest for long periods of time, managing many hurdles towards success. It is not a sprint and these factors are important (Duckworth et al., 2007). Traits that are associated with a successful individual are creativity, confidence, emotional regulation, and physical attractiveness, however, Duckworth et al. (2007) believes grit to be the common thread across professions.

Duckworth (2007) looked at GPA, military recruitment, and a spelling Bee and found that grit predicted successful outcomes more so than IQ and the Big Fives Conscientiousness. This suggests that while talent is important, you must maintain consistency of effort. Another important factor is pride, which plays a role in task perseverance, particularly when an initial cost is unavoidable. Pride has been found to have a significant, functional, motivational impact that differs from 'positive mood' which further drives an individual to perform well on a task. (Williams & DeSteno, 2008). Gritty individuals are more open-minded, make harsher judgements of themselves, and strive to constantly improve and continuously persevere. The formula by Duckworth is talent plus effort determines skill and skill plus effort determines achievement, believing effort to be doubly important (Duckworth, 2016).

Related features[edit | edit source]

This section casts an eye on important factors of perseverance:

Passion[edit | edit source]

Grit is comprised of 2 separate parts: passion and perseverance. Grit is an individual characteristic. A consistency of interests and an aptitude for long-term goal outcomes are features of passion (Munro & Hope, 2019).

The grit scale is comprised of a passion measure to increase predictability. Meta-analysis of 127 studies found that people performed better on effect sizes[explain?], supervisor-rated job performance, and on student GPA results for passion (Jachimowicz, 2008)[grammar?].

A cross-sectional study by Von et al. (2014) looked at the related component facets of grit: perseverance of effort and consistency of interests over time. The authors wanted to understand their relation to life happiness. Engagement was strongly associated with perseverance of effort, while pleasure correlated strongly with consistency of interests. This indicates that the differences in grit may be a product of personal life fulfilment (Von Culin et al., 2014). Research conducted on collectivist cultures supported perseverance of effort for producing positive psychological outcomes, such as, subjective well-being, and academic participation (Datu, 2016).

The big-five personalities[edit | edit source]

The Big Five Personality Traits
Figure 2. The Big-Five dimensions of personality

Personality traits moderately account for the differences in individuals. Traits are considered to be thoughts, ideas, emotions, and behaviours that vary in consistency over time and context (Soto, 2018).

The Big Five personality traits have become very popular in contemporary society: Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to experience, and Conscientiousness (Bleidorn et al., 2018). There is an association between Conscientiousness and Grit. Conscientiousness possesses qualities of productivity, order, dependability, goal-setting and responsibility (Soto, 2018). The predictors of conscientiousness are work performance, academic performance, and health.

Hierarchy of conscientiousness (adapted from Roberts et al., 2005)
Figure 3. Hierarchy of conscientiousness (adapted from Roberts et al., 2005)

Meta-analytic research from Credé et al. (2017) brought the validity of grit as a construct into question; they could not proclaim it as a higher-order structure. This is due to significant correlation between Grit and Conscientiousness such that a differentiation could not be made (see Figure 2.) (Credé et al., 2017). Schmidt et al. (2018) claimed that the superordinate and industrious features of the conscientiousness hierarchy encapsulate grit. as perseverance aligns with industriousness and consistency aligns with self-discipline; (95% shared variance) (see figure 3.)

Self-control and ego-depletion[edit | edit source]

Self-control is regarded as a 'muscle' that becomes worn out after repetitive movements. Low self-control is associated with impulsivity, leading to risky sexual behaviour, crime, drug abuse, debt, academic failure, achievement and task difficulties (Baumeister, 2007). Ego-depletion causes ill-disciplined behaviour (reduced inhibition), as internal desires are aroused when depleted (Baumeister, 2014).

According to Baumeister and Vohs (2007), when a person is in ego-depletion, conservation mode is activated:

  1. The individual is completely incapable of altering responses
  2. The individual is moderately incapacitated, so retreats from activity

Access to additional springs is possible when required (i.e. motivation)

Food, pleasure, social, incentive, and achievement are the most common domains that cause ego-depletion. The researchers created a 35-item delayed-gratification inventory (DGI) which showed that participants who scored high on gratification-delay exhibited better conscientiousness, achievement, self-control, discipline and academia. Additional results show increased positive affect and reduced negative affect (Hoerger et al., 2011).

The definition of self-regulation is an ability to deal with one’s environment effectively and to utilise this skill to negotiate various contexts’ (Göllner et al., 2018)

Grit scale-s measurement by
Figure 4. The grit scale-s that is used to measure a persons[grammar?] level of grit (adapted from Duckworth & Quinn 2009)

Short grit scale[edit | edit source]

The Short Grit Scale by Duckworth and Quinn (2009) is:

  • Self-report and informant-report measure
  • Measures perseverance and consistency
  • It is a 2-factor structure
  • It has less items (4 were removed)
  • Increased psychometric properties

The Grit-S has showed strong associations with career outcomes, grades, job performance and retention across domains. It has also showed positive outcomes regarding school performance, competitions, and social (Duckworth & Quinn, 2009)(see figure 4.)

Case study: Earth Jane

Jane is a mindful and driven individual, [grammar?] she always put's the required time into her assignments and submit's them on time. Jane has been learning another language and put's aside a 2-hour block each day to ensure she gets her practice in. Jane loves animals and in her spare time, she will be away somewhere, painting. Her friends always tell her they don't understand how she can be so driven. Jane's proximal goal is to complete her bachelor of art, and her distal goal is to teach as a lecturer in art history. It is likely that if Jane were to perform a short grit scale test, she would score high in grittiness.

What are the effects of perseverance?[edit | edit source]

Perseverance as a facet of grit, has many positive aspects associated with it, based on the work by (Duckworth et al., 2007).

Positive effects[edit | edit source]

The effect of perseverance within professions may be moderated by individual differences for life-achievement.

Job expectancy and burnout[edit | edit source]

teachers with high perseverance will teach longer, perform better, and experience less burnout
Figure 5. Teachers with high perseverance will teach longer, perform better, and experience less burnout[factual?]

Perseverance is predictive of achievement, job performance, and job retention (Eskreis-Winkler et al., 2014). Perseverance is concerned with engagement, while consistency is concerned with pleasure, suggesting that both facets determine outcomes (Von Culin et al., 2014)(see figure 5.)

Burnout syndrome is mental and psychological exhaustion, affecting achievement and well-being (Gaeta et al., 2017).

First-year teachers who displayed higher levels of grit, outperformed their first-year colleagues, and remained employed longer (Robertson-Kraft & Duckworth, 2014).

Achievement, performance, and retention among 400 nurse leaders found that higher educational levels, and lower ratings of burn-out are associated with perseverance (Seguin, 2019).

Resilience and perseverance[edit | edit source]

Resilience is navigating through difficult life stress, and traumatic situations, which may require adaptation, and effective action. This is managed through biological resources, life resources, and environment, allowing them to rebound (Windle, 2011).

The construct of resilience needs to be understood across multiple levels, from the individual, family, communities, country, and cultures. The most commonly attributed factors that experts agree should be studied more closely are biological, psychological, and social factors which they feel will increase resilience among individuals, communities, and cultures (Southwick et al., 2014).

1 Perseverance is a character trait that can be shaped and utilised as an intervention technique, for both, students and adults:


2 Individuals who score high on the grit scale will:

Work hard for a period of time
Work hard for long periods of time
Have a variety of interests
Spend their time thinking about the word count

Negative effects[edit | edit source]

There are drawbacks to over-persevering which can cause financial loss, and high levels of stress

Belief Perseverance[edit | edit source]

Belief perseverance is where humans hold onto an initial thought even after it's foundation has been overwhelmingly invalidated (Green & Donahue, 2011).

Individuals fail to adapt or make necessary changes at critical junctures. Although, individuals must persevere to an extent to realise their goals. For some enterprising individuals, their willingness to try new things and explore unknown territory can be costly (Van Gelderen, 2012). Many people persevere in the hope of emerging from a difficult situation due to optimism, investment justification, loss aversion, and completion desire (Van Gelderen, 2012).

There are many cases of individuals continuing to persevere when they should not, as it will be to their detriment (Astebro et al., 2007).

Brain physiology and genetic variance[edit | edit source]

The Human brain is responsible for all actions undertaken, while, our genetic makeup and environmental influences act as important mediators.

Environment and genetics[edit | edit source]

The degree to which one is gritty, is dependent on both genetics and environment. In a comprehensive study on 2,321 twins, researchers looked at predictive power of grit on academic outcomes compared to the big-five. The results revealed that 37% of the variance is attributed to perseverance, while around 20% of variance was related to consistency (Rimfeld et al., 2016). When it came to grade performance on the GCSE exam, Conscientiousness accounted for 6% of variance (Rimfeld et al, 2016).

Brain structure[edit | edit source]

Image of brain, with a focus on the anterior cingulate cortex
Figure 6. A diagram of a brain incorporating the anterior cingulate cortex which has been linked to strong behavioural perseverance.

Where exactly is perseverance located in the brain? What are its parts? Through neuromodulation, electrical brain stimulation (EBS) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) on two participants. The patients began having autonomic system responses (i.e. emotional and cognitive), believing a massive event was immanent, but felt capable and prepared (Parvizi et al., 2013). The researchers incorporated seed-based resting-state connectivity analysis which found the stimulated area to be a large distributive hub, whereby, (aMCC) is related to both frontoinsular and frontopolar regions; with subcortical affiliates (Parvizi et al., 2013)(see figure 6.)

Figure 7. The prefrontal cortex is focused on functions of cognitive control.

Both the (ACC) and (aMCC) are associated with behaviour change, best path for goal achievement and reward, performance, and cognitive control (Shenhav et al., 2013).

related brain functions to behaviour:

  • Dopamine: Dopamine (DA) is a neurotransmitter that provides a path between both the nervous and immune systems
  • Prefrontal Cortex: The PFC is focused on cognitive control, and the ability to align behaviour with a desired goal (Ott and Nieder, 2019)(see figure 7.)
  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF): When neuronal activity-induced BDNF is disturbed, this can lead to behavioural perseverance (Karpova, 2014).

Theories of behavioural perseverance[edit | edit source]

The prominent theories of motivated behaviour are social cognitive theory and self-determination theory

Social cognitive theory[edit | edit source]

Humans make causal contribution on their personal motivations and actions, that is, as part of a triadic reciprocal causation model. All individual aspects should be included within this triadic causal structure, such as: affect, actions, personal, and cognitive features (Bandura, 1989). There are four psychological processes that hinder self-efficacy, these are (a) cognitive processes (b) motivational processes (c) affective processes (d) selection processes. (see figure 8.)

triadic reciprocal model - Albert Bandura
Figure 8. The triadic reciprocal model (adapted from Bandura, 1989)

(a) Individual who possess high levels of self-efficacy, seek more difficult goals, and greater level of commitment.

(b) Efficacious people do not make excuses for failure, instead, they acknowledge they either did not have the resources or it was simply a result of low effort

(c) Lower levels of stress and affect are seen in individuals who possess a strong coping mechanism.

(d) Personal measures of self-efficacy affects how people self-select into similar environments (Bandura, 1989).

Albert Bandura (1994) pointed to 4 efficacy judgements an individual will make:

  1. Performance: if the performance is viewed positively it increases self-efficacy
  2. Vicarious: Good modelling will flow on and effect other people
  3. Persuasion: rising the persons belief in skill, while ensuring it is feasible for them
  4. Physiological: Mood informs a person of an outcome in given scenario (see figure 9.)

Self-determination theory[edit | edit source]

Self-determination theory is a psychological theory that is interested in people and personality growth. The focus is on movement from 'controlled' to 'autonomous'. It is interested in the role that social and cultural play in inhibiting or facilitating innate growth. SDT concepts are need for competence, relatedness, and autonomy (Ryan and Deci, 2017).

These are 4 efficacy judgements people make
Figure 9. These are the 4 efficacy judgements people make (adapted from Bandura, 1994)

'Motivation' is about what moves individuals to take action ~

The question is what energizes and provides direction for behaviour. The way SDT differentiates itself from other theories is on the reasons for motivation and how it changes behaviour, positively or negatively (Deci & Ryan, 2017).

A study in 2004 found that alignment of intrinsic goals with autonomy-supportive teaching styles, led to improvement on learning, performance, and perseverance. A sig (<.001) was returned across all 3 variables (Vansteenkiste et al., 2004).

The autonomous individual is intrinsically motivated, possesses intrinsically regulated, motivation is internal, and performs the task because it is inherently enjoyable. (see figure 10.)

Basic needs model of self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000)
Figure 10. The basic needs model of self-determination theory adapted from (Deci & Ryan, 2000)

An individual who always sets high goals, and never makes excuses for failure would be what kind of person:

None of the above

Self-determination theory states that there are 3 basic human needs. Which one of these is incorrect:

Physical exercise

How can perseverance be developed?[edit | edit source]

Research on the education system and young learners, indicates that perseverance could best be developed via mindsets, delayed-gratification, and learning environment.

Methods of development[edit | edit source]

Included are the most important factors in developing perseverance:

Growth and fixed mindsets[edit | edit source]

fixed mindsets believe that abilities are set like concrete, whereas growth mindsets are open to improvement (Dweck, 2017). Individuals with a fixed mindset are consumed by an inadequate sense of self. Therefore, quality of experiences and education are only effective to the receptiveness of the person. A growth mindset sees their abilities as never complete; their experiences and education are endlessly beneficial (Dweck, 2017).

A study looking into growth and fixed mindsets of children in kindergarten through to grade four, found that 100% of K1 children possessed a growth mindset, but as the years went by, fixed mindsets begun to rise to a little over 40%, with growth mindsets decreasing to just under 60%. The author argues that stale educational practices are responsible for this (Ricci, 2021).

*Some researchers believe that mindsets + perseverance is KEY (farrington & colleagues 2012) - -

Learning environments[edit | edit source]

Student-centred learning styles focus on a 'partnership' between students and teacher. Students are encouraged to engage actively, while teachers help to facilitate and respond to student needs and interests. These learning styles encourage student's to participate, acquire relevant support, consider real-life concepts, and develop intuitive thinking which allows for self-motivated, driven, learners (Laursen, 2015). Student strengths should be the focus, while providing student's with long-term goals they can work on that if done correctly, should exhibit a 'flow' state, helping develop intrinsic autonomous beings in the future (Shernoff, 2013).

Research on the effect children's values have on their behaviour showed that the higher child delayed-gratification was, the less they wanted established tradition, rather, enhancement of the self and achievement was preferred (Twito, 2019)[for example?].

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Perseverance is known to predict many life outcomes such as academia, work, social, and achievement. It is associated with conscientiousness from the big-five-factor model; some say it is too closely aligned and measures the same constructs. Perseverance has links to aCC and aMCC regions of the brain, and a genetic basis for it as well. The theories of self-determination and social cognitive theory provide solid explanations as to what drives humans into action and how to regulate one's self better. Future research should look at Grit and whether it is simply a part of the conscientiousness hierarchy or whether it will have enough psychometric properties to justify its reputation. Perseverance can be developed by incorporating student-centred learning practices, where students get to decide certain aspects of their individual learning. It will be helped along if growth mindsets are incorporated.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Åstebro, T., Jeffrey, S. A., & Adomdza, G. K. (2007). Inventor perseverance after being told to quit: The role of cognitive biases. Journal of behavioral decision making, 20(3), 253-272.

Bandura, A. (1989). Human agency in social cognitive theory. American psychologist, 44(9), 1175.

Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press. (Reprinted in H. Friedman [Ed.], Encyclopedia of mental health. San Diego: Academic Press, 1998).

Baumeister, R. F., & Vohs, K. D. (2007). Self‐Regulation, ego depletion, and motivation. Social and personality psychology compass, 1(1), 115-128.

Baumeister, R. F. (2014). Self-regulation, ego depletion, and inhibition. Neuropsychologia, 65, 313-319.

Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D., & Tice, D. M. (2007). The strength model of self-control. Current directions in psychological science, 16(6), 351-355.

Bleidorn, W., Hopwood, C. J., & Lucas, R. E. (2018). Life events and personality trait change. Journal of personality, 86(1), 83-96.

Credé, M., Tynan, M. C., & Harms, P. D. (2017). Much ado about grit: A meta-analytic synthesis of the grit literature. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 113(3), 492–511.

Datu, J. A. D., Valdez, J. P. M., & King, R. B. (2016). Perseverance counts but consistency does not! Validating the short grit scale in a collectivist setting. Current Psychology, 35(1), 121-130.

Duckworth, A. L., & Quinn, P. D. (2009). Development and validation of the Short Grit Scale (GRIT–S). Journal of personality assessment, 91(2), 166-174.

Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: The power of passion and perseverance (Vol. 234). New York, NY: Scribner. International Journal of Applied Behavioural Economics, 6(3), 55-57.

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.

Dweck, C. (2017). Mindset-updated edition: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential. Hachette UK.

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.

Gaeta, T., Dam, A., Perrera, T., Jones, M., & Dulani, T. (2017). A multicenter study of grit and it’s relationship to burnout. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine: Integrating Emergency Care with Population Health, 18(5.1).

Göllner, L. M., Ballhausen, N., Kliegel, M., & Forstmeier, S. (2018). Delay of gratification, delay discounting and their associations with age, episodic future thinking, and future time perspective. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 2304.

Green, M. C., & Donahue, J. K. (2011). Persistence of belief change in the face of deception: The effect of factual stories revealed to be false. Media Psychology, 14(3), 312-331.

Hoerger, M., Quirk, S. W., & Weed, N. C. (2011). Development and validation of the Delaying Gratification Inventory. Psychological assessment, 23(3), 725.

Jachimowicz, J. M., Wihler, A., Bailey, E. R., & Galinsky, A. D. (2018). Why grit requires perseverance and passion to positively predict performance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(40), 9980-9985.

Karpova, N. N. (2014). Role of BDNF epigenetics in activity-dependent neuronal plasticity. Neuropharmacology, 76, 709-718.

Laursen, E. K. (2015). The power of grit, perseverance, and tenacity. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 23(4), 19-24. Retrieved from

Ott, T., & Nieder, A. (2019). Dopamine and cognitive control in prefrontal cortex. Trends in cognitive sciences, 23(3), 213-234.

Parvizi, J., Rangarajan, V., Shirer, W. R., Desai, N., & Greicius, M. D. (2013). The will to persevere induced by electrical stimulation of the human cingulate gyrus. Neuron, 80(6), 1359-1367.

Ricci, M. C. (2021). Mindsets in the classroom: Building a culture of success and student achievement in schools. Routledge.

Rimfeld, K., Kovas, Y., Dale, P. S., & Plomin, R. (2016). True grit and genetics: Predicting academic achievement from personality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111(5), 780-789.

Robertson-Kraft, C., & Duckworth, A. L. (2014). True grit: Trait-level perseverance and passion for long-term goals predicts effectiveness and retention among novice teachers. Teachers College Record (1970), 116(3).

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. Guilford Publications.

Schmidt, F. T., Nagy, G., Fleckenstein, J., Möller, J., & Retelsdorf, J. A. N. (2018). Same same, but different? Relations between facets of conscientiousness and grit. European Journal of Personality, 32(6), 705-720.

Seguin, C. (2019). A survey of nurse leaders to explore the relationship between grit and measures of success and well-being. JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration, 49(3), 125-131. https://doi:10.1097/NNA.0000000000000725

Shenhav, A., Botvinick, M. M., & Cohen, J. D. (2013). The expected value of control: an integrative theory of anterior cingulate cortex function. Neuron, 79(2), 217-240.

Shernoff, D. J. (2013). Optimal learning environments to promote student engagement.

Soto, C. J. (2018). Big Five personality traits. In M. H. Bornstein, M. E. Arterberry, K. L. Fingerman, & J. E. Lansford (Eds.), The SAGE encyclopedia of lifespan human development (pp. 240-241). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Southwick, S. M., Bonanno, G. A., Masten, A. S., Panter-Brick, C., & Yehuda, R. (2014). Resilience definitions, theory, and challenges: interdisciplinary perspectives. European journal of psychotraumatology, 5(1), 25338.

Twito, L., Israel, S., Simonson, I., & Knafo-Noam, A. (2019). The Motivational Aspect of Children’s Delayed Gratification: Values and Decision Making in Middle Childhood. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 1649.

Van Gelderen, M. (2012). Perseverance strategies of enterprising individuals. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research.

Vansteenkiste, M., Simons, J., Lens, W., Sheldon, K. M., & Deci, E. L. (2004). Motivating learning, performance, and persistence: the synergistic effects of intrinsic goal contents and autonomy-supportive contexts. Journal of personality and social psychology, 87(2), 246.

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), 306-312.

Williams, L. A., & DeSteno, D. (2008). Pride and perseverance: the motivational role of pride. Journal of personality and social psychology, 94(6), 1007.

Windle, G. (2011). What is resilience? A review and concept analysis. Reviews in Clinical Gerontology, 21(2),152-169. https://doi:10.1017/S0959259810000420

Wolf, D. A. P. S., Linn, B. K., & Dulmus, C. N. (2018). Are grittier front-line therapists more likely to implement evidence-based interventions?. Community mental health journal, 54(7), 959-966.

External links[edit | edit source]