By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When we think of well-achieved kids, we think of talent and brains. But it turns out that University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth, studying spelling bee champs and West Point cadets, 2800 subjects in all, found that grit, defined as passion and perseverance for long term goals, is the best predictor of success and is unrelated and even negatively correlated with success.

Using a “Grit Scale,” Duckworth asks people to rate themselves on questions like, “I finish whatever I begin,” and “I become interested in new pursuits every few months.” Findings revealed that the cadets who scored higher were less likely to drop out of the brutal summer boot camp while West Point’s index utilizing SAT scores, leadership, class rank, and aptitude could not predict retention.

Believing that grit can be taught by optimism, a Wall Street Journal article about tough teachers, cites data showing students made greater academic gains when their teachers rated high on optimism.

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