King's College London

Research portal

True Grit and Genetics: Predicting Academic Achievement From Personality

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)780-789
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number5
Early online date11 Feb 2016
Accepted/In press27 Nov 2015
E-pub ahead of print11 Feb 2016
Published1 Nov 2016


  • True grit and genetics_RIMFELD_Publishedonline11February2016_GREEN AAM

    Rimfeld_et_al_True_Grit_paper.pdf, 1.22 MB, application/pdf

    Uploaded date:22 Feb 2016

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

    Licence:CC BY

    This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.

  • 2016-06824-001

    2016_06824_001.pdf, 209 KB, application/pdf

    Uploaded date:09 Mar 2021

    Version:Final published version

    Licence:CC BY

    This article has been published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Copyright for this article is retained by the author(s).

King's Authors


Grit—perseverance and passion for long-term goals—has been shown to be a significant predictor of academic success, even after controlling for other personality factors. Here, for the first time, we use a U.K.-representative sample and a genetically sensitive design to unpack the etiology of Grit and its prediction of academic achievement in comparison to well-established personality traits. For 4,642 16-year-olds (2,321 twin pairs), we used the Grit-S scale (perseverance of effort and consistency of interest), along with the Big Five personality traits, to predict grades on the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams, which are administered U.K.-wide at the end of compulsory education. Twin analyses of Grit perseverance yielded a heritability estimate of 37% (20% for consistency of interest) and no evidence for shared environmental influence. Personality, primarily conscientiousness, predicts about 6% of the variance in GCSE grades, but Grit adds little to this prediction. Moreover, multivariate twin analyses showed that roughly two-thirds of the GCSE prediction is mediated genetically. Grit perseverance of effort and Big Five conscientiousness are to a large extent the same trait both phenotypically (r = 0.53) and genetically (genetic correlation = 0.86). We conclude that the etiology of Grit is highly similar to other personality traits, not only in showing substantial genetic influence but also in showing no influence of shared environmental factors. Personality significantly predicts academic achievement, but Grit adds little phenotypically or genetically to the prediction of academic achievement beyond traditional personality factors, especially conscientiousness.

Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454