What is Mental Toughness?

Personality can be defined as an individual’s characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting. Key to this is Mental Toughness which explains why individuals behave the way they do. In other words, it is the thinking element of personality and impacts on individuals in everything they do.  It is a major factor in performance, positive behaviour and wellbeing.

How can this be applied to the Youth Sector

Development of mental toughness translates into a positive impact on:

Attainment levels –  Mental Toughness can account for up to 25% of the variation in performance in exams or tests. The mentally tough produce better coursework, are more engaged and are more likely to stick at a programme.

Aspirations – More mentally tough individuals are likely to be more ambitious than those with lower levels. They will be more likely to get a job, keep it, are more likely to want to develop, improve and work hard to achieve this.

Life chances – the more mentally tough are more positive and ‘can do’. They will be more able to take advantage of opportunities that come their way even if they are few in number. They generally have a greater sense of wellbeing.

A case study measuring the impact of mental toughness on young people

The Mental Toughness framework & 4 Cs model

Research carried out under the direction of Professor Peter Clough of Huddersfield University identified the four components of Mental Toughness –  the 4 Cs: which each has sub components.

Mental toughness can also be mapped to qualities such as resilience, grit, mindset, etc

How can we assess Mental Toughness?

We are able to assess Mental Toughness through a unique 48 item high quality psychometric measure – MTQ48. Users can assess Mental Toughness before and after a programme. There is an online training programme to equip users as well as resource toolkits to support development activities. Find out more about the MTQ48 here.


AQR (in partnership with Ambition UK) are currently running a series of webinars on Mental Toughness and its applications in the youth sector. The next of these is on 23rd May at 2pm and is focused on Mental Toughness and development of staff within youth organisations. The programme examines sources of stress, pressure and challenge for leadership teams and for staff and how developing a positive mindset is key to staff development and performance.

Find out more about the FREE event here

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