Head Strong

How Psychology is Revolutionizing War

Grit and Achievement

It takes more than intelligence to overcome life's obstacles, and to achieve long-term, difficult goals. Read More

Have you ever met "The Black Knight"?

From Monty Python's "Quest for the Holy Grail"? He's a tough guy, that's fer sure! Never quits, never gives up. Even when he's surrounded by a pile of his own limbs, he's threatening to bite opponents' legs off.

The idea of "as long as you don't quit, you can't possibly loose" is philisophically unsound. Granted, intelligence may not be the most important factor; however it is not a factor you can do very much without.

Developing Grit

Thanks for the article. I've read a bit about the psychology of grit before and I find it extremely interesting. I'm also pretty interested in the psychology of hardiness.

I think James E Loehr's work in toughness training is probably a good start to developing grit. In 'The New Toughness Training for Sports' he actually has a chapter on how the military develops toughness, which relates to what you were saying about military training developing grit.

Although 'toughness' is a more folk-psychological term than grit, I think he's done enough work with enough people in different areas of life to suggest that his work might be useful. I wonder whether you could do a study measuring the effects of one of his programs on grit?


The hardiness construct is well grounded empirically and has wide applicability. I'd suggest Maddi's recent (2012) book, "Hardiness: Turning Stressful Circumstances into Positive Growth." I'll take a look at Loehr's work, thanks for the tip.

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Michael D. Matthews, Ph.D., is Professor of Engineering Psychology at the United States Military Academy and author of Head Strong: How Psychology is Revolutionizing War.


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