True ‘grit’ needed for success – and where you grow up affects it

Children living in certain areas of the UK are more likely to have the ‘grit’ needed to succeed in life, a report by the Ambition AXA Awards for talented young people has found.

30 September 2011

Posted in Partnerships

by Jennifer Chilcott (see media contact)

The study among 2,000 11 to 18-year-olds suggests that there is something about certain cities - particularly in Scotland - that seems to influence children to have the drive necessary to achieve later in life.

What is it that makes one ambitious child go on to real-world achievement and another to not live up to their promise? The answer, according to the new study, lies in having traits such as perseverance and passion for long-term goals - in other words, 'grit'.

Using the 'Grit Scale'*, a method that ranks a person's level of determination, the report found that those who describe themselves as ambitious are not necessarily the same as those who have the 'grit' needed to succeed.

The scale was developed by Professor Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania to investigate her hypothesis that grit is a significant factor in achievement and success. Looking at what characteristics beyond IQ differentiated the students who went on to be leaders in their fields, she found that those with sustained commitment to their ambitions were more likely to achieve than gifted individuals who did not work towards their goals as much. In other words, if an ambition is to be achieved, it is the consistency and duration of effort towards that goal - 'grit' - that will produce success.

The AmbitionAXAAwards study used this scale to examine the levels of both 'grittiness' and ambition in 11 to 18 in cities across the country following an earlier report into international attitudes towards ambition. This earlier study suggested that young Brits, although more ambitious than many of their European counterparts, lack the drive needed to succeed and need a boost to their self-belief and determination. While two-thirds of German and Spanish youngsters said they 'like to win' and 'try harder' if they don't, just four in 10 young British people believe they will actually achieve their ambition.

According to the Grit Scale, Scottish youngsters - particularly those living in Glasgow -come top as they are more likely to work towards challenges, finish what they have begun, and maintain effort and interest over years despite failure.

In contrast, those living inGloucesterare less likely to see their ambitions through; those that scored low marks on the scale were those who said they changed their goals, lacked focus and are discouraged by setbacks.

Prof. Duckworth said: "Grit may be as essential as talent to high accomplishment. If it's important for you to become one of the best people in your field, you are going to have to stick with it when it's hard."

The study was commissioned to supportAXA's initiative, the AmbitionAXAAwards. The £200,000 awards scheme for 11 to 18-year-olds was launched in March to reward youngUKtalent and achievement inEnterprise, Science, Community, Sport and The Arts. Five talented young people could each win a bespoke mentoring prize worth up to £40,000 (a total prize fund of £200,000). The deadline for entries is 14 October and the winners will be announced on30 November 2011, after which the judging panel will help the winners to create a development package that will help them to achieve their goals.

Key Tables

UKstandard grit score for 11-18 year olds = 3.04

The maximum score on this scale is 5 (extremely gritty) and the lowest is 1 (not at all gritty).

Rank

City

Grit score (out of 5)

1

Glasgow

3.16

2

Aberdeen

3.15

3

Swansea

3.14

4

Portsmouth

3.13

5

Coventry

3.12

6

Plymouth

3.11

7

Liverpool

3.10

8

Leicester

3.09

=

Brighton & Hove

3.09

10

Worcester

3.08

=

Sheffield

3.08

=

Leeds

3.08

=

Aberystwyth

3.08

14

Newcastle

3.06

15

Norwich

3.05

=

Edinburgh

3.05

17

Wolverhampton

3.03

=

Manchester

3.03

=

Cardiff

3.03

=

Belfast

3.03

21

Birmingham

3.02

22

Southampton

3.01

23

Oxford

3.00

=

London

3.00

25

Bristol

2.99

26

York

2.97

27

Chelmsford

2.96

28

Cambridge

2.95

29

Wrexham

2.91

30

Gloucester

2.87

Rank

Gender

Grit score

1

Female

3.05

2

Male

3.03

Rank

Age

Grit score

1

17-18

3.18

2

15-16

3.06

3

13-14

3.03

4

11-12

2.98

Ambition scores

UK standard Ambition score for 11-18 year olds = 3.38

Rank

City

Ambition score (out of 5)

1

Worcester

3.56

2

Portsmouth

3.54

3

Oxford

3.48

4

Glasgow

3.46

=

Belfast

3.46

6

Plymouth

3.45

=

Manchester

3.45

=

Wrexham

3.45

9

Edinburgh

3.44

10

Norwich

3.43

11

Leeds

3.42

12

Leicester

3.41

=

Sheffield

3.41

14

Birmingham

3.40

15

Wolverhampton

3.39

16

Newcastle

3.38

17

London

3.37

18

Brighton & Hove

3.34

=

Bristol

3.34

=

Chelmsford

3.34

21

Cambridge

3.33

22

York

3.31

23

Cardiff

3.30

24

Aberdeen

3.28

=

Gloucester

3.28

26

Liverpool

3.27

27

Swansea

3.26

=

Southampton

3.26

29

Aberystwyth

3.10

30

Coventry

3.01

Rank

Gender

Ambition score

1

Male

3.40

2

Female

3.36

Rank

Age

Ambition score

1

11-12

3.41

2

17-18

3.40

3

15-16

3.38

4

13-14

3.34

*The Grit Scale was developed by Angela Lee Duckworth, PhD to establish what characteristics beyond IQ differentiated the students who went on to be leaders in their fields. Across six studies, Duckworth found that found that grit significantly contributed to successful outcomes. Read more at Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2007, Vol. 92, No. 6, 1087–1101.