Here is a brief excerpt from an article by Anya Kazmentz for National Public Radio in which Angela Duckworth responds to criticism of her best-seller, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, published by Scribner (May 2016). To read the complete article, check out other resources, and learn how to support National Public Radio, please click here.
* * *
Grit has been on NPR several times recently, not to mention front and center on the national education agenda.
The term expresses the idea that a crucial component of success is people’s ability to pick a goal and stick with it. That’s the main thrust of research by Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania, which has earned her a MacArthur “genius” grant, national acclaim and, this month, a best-selling book.
But a new report suggests that we should all take a step back and chill. The study, Much Ado about Grit: A Meta-Analytic Synthesis of the Grit Literature, will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. It analyzes 88 separate studies by Duckworth and others.
“My overall assessment is that grit is far less important than has commonly been assumed and claimed,” says the lead author, Marcus Crede, an assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State University. “And it doesn’t tell us anything that we don’t already know.”
Duckworth has now responded in detail to the charges in the paper — and acknowledges some of the points are correct. In a series of emails to NPR Ed, she added, however, “I can’t see, exactly, how the author goes from these findings to the rather bold claims in his press release.”
Here are the key claims in Crede’s paper:
o Effect sizes in one of Duckworth’s major papers on grit were described incorrectly to sound misleadingly large.
o The impact of grit is exaggerated, especially when looking at broader populations of people — not just the high achievers in Duckworth’s initial studies.
o Grit is nearly identical to conscientiousness, which has been known to psychologists for decades as a major dimension of personality. It is not something that’s necessarily open to change, especially in adults, whereas Duckworth in her writings suggests that grit is.
* * *
Angela Duckworth, PhD, is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. An expert in non-I.Q. competencies, she has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs. Prior to her career in research, she taught children math and science and was the founder of a summer school for low-income children that won the Better Government Award from the state of Massachusetts. She completed her BA in neurobiology at Harvard, her MSc in neuroscience at Oxford, and her PhD in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. More recently, she founded the Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development in children. Grit is her first book.
Here is a direct link to the complete article.
To watch Angela’s 6:12 TED program, please click here.
Anya Kazmentz is the author of several books about education and technology. Her forthcoming book, Clicking: Digital Parenting In The Real World, (PublicAffairs, 2017) is the first, essential, don’t-panic guide to kids, parents, and screens. To learn more about here and her work, please click here.