News Release 

Cognitive ability, grit, and success

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

A study examines the importance of cognitive and noncognitive traits in predicting success. The role of noncognitive attributes in predicting success is understudied, compared with the role of cognitive ability. To address this question, Angela Duckworth and colleagues analyzed data on cognitive ability, physical ability, and grit--defined as passion and perseverance for long-term goals of personal significance--from more than 10,000 cadets who entered the United States Military Academy at West Point over a decade. Cognitive ability, measured by college entrance exam scores, was negatively correlated with both physical ability, measured by pre-admission fitness tests, and grit, measured by a self-report questionnaire completed upon arrival at West Point. The finding suggests the independence of cognitive and noncognitive attributes. Grit was the only attribute that predicted completing West Point's 6-week intensive initiation training, known as Beast Barracks. Cognitive ability was a strong predictor of academic and military grades, and physical ability was a strong predictor of physical grades. Grit and physical ability were both better than cognitive ability at predicting the probability of graduation. According to the authors, the results suggest that noncognitive and cognitive attributes both contribute significantly to personal achievement.

Article #19-10510: "Cognitive and noncognitive predictors of success," by Angela L. Duckworth et al.

MEDIA CONTACT: Angela L. Duckworth, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; tel: 267-253-8598; e-mail:; Michael D. Matthews, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY; tel: 845-938-3696, 845-551-6351; e-mail:


Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.