The key to success is like a cocktail.
While hard work and determination often are two traits thrown ahead of achieving success, new research conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, and the United States Military Academy found that a mixture of cognitive and non-cognitive factors often can help predict success.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used data from more than 11,000 West Point cadets where each student was assigned a grit score based on a model created by the University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth, one of the researchers for this paper. Researchers also collected data from students’ SAT or ACT scores, and accumulated scores from fitness tests at West Point, like the “Beast Barracks” — a crash-course all students experience when they arrive at West Point.
“We accumulated all this data in part so we could answer more definitively the question of whether grit predicted success outcomes,” Duckworth said in a statement. “We now have more confidence in our original conclusions. At the same time, we wanted to explore where, perhaps, grit wasn’t the most important factor.”
Here’s a breakdown of the findings:
Beast Barracks — Grit is the key component to success for this field test. Said Duckworth, “The grittier you are, the less likely you are to drop out during that very discouraging time.”
Classroom and physical training — Cognitive ability was the strongest element at success in academia, while grit and physical ability had much larger roles than cognitive ability in determining who would graduate within four years compared to who’d drop out.
“This work shows us that grit is not the only determinant of success,” Duckworth said. “Yes, it’s very important, helping people stick with things when they’re hard, but it’s not the best predictor of every aspect of success.”