Assessing Mindset and Mental Toughness
Following on from our post explaining the benefits of using psychometrics. We move onto looking at how we can measure that third, and often overlooked, element of personality – mindset.
A pioneer in this area is Professor Carol Dweck who began to define and describe Mindset. She noted that performance and attainment in individuals could be explained by a difference in Mindset. She suggested that there were two basic mindset – a Growth or Flexible Mindset and a Fixed Mindset. They reflected how people approached task and challenges – i.e. how they thought about them.
In a Fixed Mindset, people believe that attainment is down to ability and little else. You can do it if to have the ability to do it. The reason you can’t do something is because you don’t have the ability.
In a Growth Mindset, someone of equal ability but a belief that there are other factors – like working hard, seeing opportunity where others see threat, having confidence, etc – will often achieve where someone with a Fixed Mindset wont.
Simply, their ability to achieve and often their well-being and behaviour is determined by how they think.
You only have to look at the world of sports to see examples of individuals and teams of lesser ability beating better opponents, because they have this self-belief.
Over the last fifteen years or so, Professor Peter Clough and AQR International have expanded our understanding and application of this idea through the Mental Toughness Concept. Building on an idea proposed by Suzanne Kobasa, Peter added Confidence to her notion of Hardiness and refined what we understood by Control to develop the Mental Toughness model.
Now well evidenced and very well researched, we have a working definition of Mental Toughness – it describes the mind-set that every person adopts in everything they do. It is closely related to qualities such as character, resilience, grit, etc which it embraces. It is defined as:
A personality trait which determines, in large part, how people respond to challenge, stress and pressure, irrespective of their circumstances
It is not describing Toughness in the macho sense of the word, it echoes resilience. It’s about “being comfortable in your own skin”.
We know that it has 4 components – Control and Commitment (Resilience) plus Challenge and Confidence, each of which has sub-components
An important and valuable by-product of the research has been the development of a valid and reliable psychometric – MTQ48 – which helps us to assess “how we think”. This is described in more detail in the next post in the series.
@ AQR International 2016.
AQR is a leading edge publisher of psychometric measures, we also work through partner organisations. For more information please visit www.aqrinternational.co.uk