News

If the going gets tough, when should the tough give up?

October 9, 2015

Perseverance is essential for success, but researchers caution that “gritty” individuals need to know when to quit.

Contact: Andrew Good at (213) 740-8606 or .

If there’s a “secret sauce” for success, it just might be grit. As defined by psychologist Angela Duckworth, it refers to a kind of persistence that only gets stronger in the face of adversity. It’s a hallmark of overachievers, whether in the office or the classroom, and drives them on even when they’re staring down failure.

But a new study suggests there are risks in having too much grit to quit. Researchers found the trait can be hard to switch off – and those who have it sometimes set themselves up for failure by overreaching. The study results have big implications for how to best help students prepare for college and the SAT.

“Grit is something the U.S. Department of Education is promoting, and people are looking at how to increase it among students,” said lead author Gale Lucas of the USC Institute for Creative Technologies. “Grit is great, but not a lot of research has been done to identify the downsides. This study helps ensure that when we’re evaluating grit, we’re doing it in a round and complete way.”

The study was co-authored by Jonathan Gratch, also of ICT; Lin Cheng, formerly of ICT and now with Northeastern University; and Stacy Marsella of Northeastern University. It was published in the Journal of Research in Personality on September 8.

Read the full story at USC News.