‘Self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance of adolescents’, Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman, Psychological Science, Volume 16, Number 12, pp. 939-944

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This article reports the findings of two studies conducted by Duckworth and Seligman, both on eighth grade students.  The first had 140 participants and the second 164.  Both groups were drawn from a diverse range of social, economic and ethnic groups.

Measuring levels of self-discipline is, as the researchers themselves admit, difficult, so they used what they describe as a ‘multisource approach’ – asking the students themselves, their parents and their teachers to complete questionnaires assessing the extent of their self-discipline.  The researchers also used two different ways to measure the students’ ability to delay gratification.  The results of the studies were as reported in the title of this paper.  Self-discipline was a more accurate predictor of academic success than IQ scores.  The former, unlike the latter, predicted which of the eighth graders ‘would improve their grades over the course of the school year’.  Indeed: ‘Highly self-disciplined adolescents outperformed their…

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