The Grit Effect & Predicting Retention in the Military

Research Paper Title

The grit effect: predicting retention in the military, the workplace, school and marriage.


Remaining committed to goals is necessary (albeit not sufficient) to attaining them, but very little is known about domain-general individual differences that contribute to sustained goal commitment.

The current investigation examines the association between grit, defined as passion and perseverance for long-term goals, other individual difference variables, and retention in four different contexts:

  • The military;
  • Workplace sales;
  • High school; and
  • Marriage.

Grit predicted retention over and beyond established context-specific predictors of retention (e.g., intelligence, physical aptitude, Big Five personality traits, job tenure) and demographic variables in each setting.

Grittier soldiers were more likely to complete an Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) selection course, grittier sales employees were more likely to keep their jobs, grittier students were more likely to graduate from high school, and grittier men were more likely to stay married.

The relative predictive validity of grit compared to other traditional predictors of retention is examined in each of the four studies.

These findings suggest that in addition to domain-specific influences, there may be domain-general individual differences which influence commitment to diverse life goals over time.


Eskreis-Winkler, L. Shulman, E.P., Beal, S.A. & Duckworth, A.L. (2014) The grit effect: predicting retention in the military, the workplace, school and marriage. Frontiers in Psychology.


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