The Nitty Gritty of PAIRIN’s Grit

When Dr. Angela Duckworth first published her work on Grit in 2007, the construct exploded into the business world. Grit is a relatively simple concept at its core, and Duckworth defines it as “trait-level persistence and passion for long-term goals” (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews & Kelly, 2007). Duckworth’s original research showed better outcomes for students at West Point and National Spelling Bee contestants. Grittier people attained more and were more successful when faced with challenging experiences. The Grit construct has shown effectiveness in predicting life satisfaction and satisfaction with school in children (Clark & Malecki, 2019), and educational engagement and attainment in college-age students (Hodge, Wright & Bennett, 2018). So, it’s not surprising that there are numerous blogs, opinion pieces and popular articles about why Grit is essential for not just employees, but everyone.  

Since Grit is a non-cognitive, behavioral-based construct, it can be measured with The PAIRIN Survey and is included as one of PAIRIN’s attributes. To explore Grit in relation to PAIRIN’s attributes, we at PAIRIN considered the definition and sought to combine several existing attributes into a robust assessment. We settled on Dynamism, Persistence, Resiliency and Self-Alignment.

The PAIRIN Survey AttributeDefinition
DynamismGlobal tendencies to generate results through intentional, resourceful, energetic mindsets and behaviors.
PersistenceThe drive to firmly continue in a course of action, despite difficulties, opposition or warning; stubborn determination.
ResiliencyTo recover positivity toward self and others—to rebound—after setback, difficulty or unexpected change.
Self-AlignmentThe sense of agreement between a person’s real self-image and the ideal self. It is distinct from but reflective of self-esteem.

We believe this collection of PAIRIN attributes best reflects the definition of Grit used by Duckworth and many organizations. Dynamism is the passion that Grit speaks about and gives a person the energy to push toward long-term goals; it works in concert with Self-Alignment, which helps a person know themselves and align with concrete, relevant, long-term plans. Likewise, Persistence and Resiliency give a person the ability to stick to their goals, despite challenging opposition. By focusing on these four attributes in The PAIRIN Survey, we have an aggregate Grit attribute that we believe is equivalent to Duckworth’s original model. The benefit is that PAIRIN’s Grit draws from a much larger, holistic evaluation of a person’s overall behavioral makeup.

To understand if our attribute framework for Grit is strong, we decided to further test it against psychometric science modeling to see if we could validate the elements. First, we used Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) to look at the model of the Grit attribute down to the adjectives used in each attribute that composes Grit. For example, in this modeling, every adjective used in Self-Alignment was included in the analysis, and likewise, with every other attribute. We also built the model to explore if the four proposed elements held together as a reasonable part of an overarching Grit model. The indices of fit required to determine data validity were all high and showed a robust model, which is pictured below. The path coefficients, displayed on each of the directional arrows, are similar to correlations, meaning the higher the values (approaching 1.00), the more they are related to Grit as an overarching concept.

With the model confirmed, we wanted to institute further testing with real people. So, we asked 94 people who took The PAIRIN Survey to respond to the original 12-item Grit measure. Then, we statistically compared their PAIRIN Survey Grit scores to their scores on the self-report Grit survey and found a .31 (p < .001) correlation between the two. This result is sufficient to say that the two Grit measures are similar enough to have established support for construct validity with Grit.

This evidence demonstrates that these two constructs are related. However, the strength of the Pearson correlation is interpreted as “moderate” which led us to consider why it might not be higher. A strong possibility for the relationship we found could be the difference in format and methodology of the two assessments. The PAIRIN Survey’s measure of Grit is embedded in the holistic evaluation of many other attributes. Additionally, it could be related to the Duckworth Grit survey’s overt, self-report items (for example: “I have overcome setbacks to conquer an important challenge”) whereas The PAIRIN Survey uses embedded adjectives that relate to Grit dimensions that a survey-taker must endorse or not endorse. So, those taking the Duckworth Grit survey may be focused on attaining a high score on Grit, whereas those taking The PAIRIN Survey are only focused on accurately picking adjectives that best represent them and not a single construct of interest. Overall, these results’ similarity gives us the confidence to say that The PAIRIN Survey reliably measures Grit. 

The additional benefit to the Grit attribute used by PAIRIN is that it links to the rest of The PAIRIN Survey’s data, results and charts. So, in addition to being able to get a solid understanding of a respondent’s Grit, you can find out about their Emotional Intelligence, Imperatives, or any other number of attributes, as well as how they all interact. The valuable information provided by the PAIRIN Grit attribute enables you to better understand the people you work with, seek to hire, are coaching to better opportunities and manage from day-to-day. 


Clark, K. N., & Malecki, C. K. (2019). Academic Grit Scale: Psychometric properties and associations with achievement and life satisfaction. Journal of school psychology, 72, 49-66.

Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of personality and social psychology, 92(6), 1087.

Duckworth, A. L., & Quinn, P. D. (2009). Development and validation of the Short Grit Scale (GRIT–S). Journal of personality assessment, 91(2), 166-174.

Hodge, B., Wright, B., & Bennett, P. (2018). The role of grit in determining engagement and academic outcomes for university students. Research in Higher Education, 59(4), 448-460.