Meta-analysis finds that perseverance of effort, or grit, is strongly tied to better subjective well-being

Meta-analysis finds that perseverance of effort, or grit, is strongly tied to better subjective well-being

Published April 3, 2022 in
By Patricia Y. Sanchez

Grit, a trait consisting of perseverance despite adversity and passion for long-term goals, is a strong predictor of success, but less is known about how it relates to an individual’s subjective well-being. Research published Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that perseverance of effort has a strong relationship to subjective well-being while consistency of interest (i.e., passion) is weakly related.

Study authors Xiangling Hou and colleagues defined subjective well-being in this study by assessing two sub facets: affective well-being and cognitive well-being. “Affective well-being is characterized by the presence of positive or pleasant affect (e.g., happiness) and the absence of negative or unpleasant affect (e.g., depression). Cognitive well-being, on the contrary, refers to the cognitive evaluation of overall life (i.e., life satisfaction) as well as of specific life domains (e.g., job satisfaction, school satisfaction),” the researchers wrote.

One theory is that grit might be related to subjective well-being by facilitating successful goal pursuit and achievement. Another is that grit is associated with positive and optimistic attitudes toward oneself and life, which then may cultivate a higher sense of well-being.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis, which is an analytic technique that combines the results of multiple studies, to examine how grit relates to subjective well-being. To do this, they collected a total of 83 studies with a total of over 66,000 participants.

Results showed a strong relationship between overall grit and perseverance of effort with subjective well-being. On the other hand, consistency of interest (i.e., passion for long-term goals) was weakly related to subjective well-being. The latter relationship became even weaker for older participants. Culture was not related to the grit-subjective well-being relationship.

Results also allowed the researchers to disentangle grit from the trait of Conscientiousness in the Big Five Personality inventory. Conscientiousness, or thoughtfulness, is a similar trait that may contribute to higher subjective well-being in that it also facilitates goal pursuit and achievement. Although research shows conscientiousness and grit to be highly correlated, this meta-analysis indicates they are separate constructs that contribute to subjective well-being differently.

The authors of the study caution that improving an individual’s subjective well-being is not as simple as conducting grit intervention programs aimed at “teaching” or “improving” grit. It still cannot be known whether grit causes improvements in one’s subjective well-being or vice versa. The researchers also caution that there are likely other variables relevant to grit and subjective well-being that were not included in this study.

The study, “Do Grittier People Have Greater Subjective Well-Being? A Meta-Analysis“, was authored by Xiang-Ling Hou, Nicolas Becker, Tian-Qiang Hu, Marco Koch, Ju-Zhe Xi, and René Mõttus.

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