Does true grit actually exist?

Maybe 'I Do'
Kevin Andrews
Buy New $34.95

- May 21, 2013

John Wayne had it; Jeff Bridges too. But far from being an intangible quality – scientists claim ‘true grit’ can be measured.

They say those with the trait show a ‘perseverance and passion for long-term goals’, and are tenacious, not easily distracted and not discouraged by setbacks.

And the scientists claim a simple test is enough to see whether a person possesses the dogged determination exhibited by Marshal Rooster Cogburn in the Hollywood Western, True Grit.

Those who take it have to rate how closely eight statements apply to them. These include ‘I finish whatever I begin’ and ‘Setbacks don’t discourage me’.

Wayne received an Oscar for his 1969 portrayal of the fearless American civil war veteran who helps a 14-year-old girl track down the man who had killed her father.

Bridges showed a similar single-mindedness in a recent remake.

And scientists say that if you too have true grit, you may do better in life.

Those with true grit show a ‘perseverance and passion for long-term goals’.

They are tenacious, not easily distracted and not discouraged by set-backs.  They also place importance in success.

According to studies, gritty children spell better, gritty teachers get the best out of their pupils and gritty adults get higher marks at university.

Put simply, grit could explain why some people try harder than others. To work out who has true grit, scientists have devised an eight-question test designed to measure focus and perseverance.

Those who score highly aren’t distracted from the task in hand by new opportunities, nor are they discouraged by setbacks. They are hard-workers and find it easy to spend months focusing on a single project. And, as diligent types, they like to finish what they begin.

Long-term, this may lead to them achieving their goals. But in the very short-term, the effects can be seen on the body.

When psychologists from the University of North Carolina got men and women to do tricky mental manipulations, they saw differences in the activity of the heart between tenacious types and those who give up easily.

The US researchers said: ‘Grit, a recently proposed personality trait associated with persistence for long-term goals, predicts success in part in promoting self-control, thus allowing people to persist in repetitive, tedious or frustrating behaviours that are necessary for success.

‘People high in grit are more passionate about their goals and more dedicated to accomplishing them.’

Source: Fiona McCrae, Daily Mail, April 29, 2013