Does Aging Make Us Grittier? Disentangling the Age and Generation Effect on Passion and Perseverance

Shane Sanders, Nuwan Indika Millagaha Gedara, Bhavneet Walia, Christopher Boudreaux, Merril D Silverstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Defined as perseverance and passion for long term goals, grit represents an important psychological skill toward goal-attainment in academic and less-stylized settings. An outstanding issue of primary importance is whether age affects grit, ceteris paribus. The 12-item Grit-O Scale and the 8-item Grit-S Scale-from which grit scores are calculated-have not existed for a long period of time. Therefore, Duckworth (2016, p. 37) states in her book, Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance, that "we need a different kind of study"to distinguish between rival explanations that either generational cohort or age are more important in explaining variation in grit across individuals. Despite this clear data constraint, we obtain a glimpse into the future in the present study by using a within and between generational cohort age difference-in-difference approach. By specifying generation as a categorical variable and age-in-generation as a count variable in the same regression specifications, we are able to account for the effects of variation in age and generation simultaneously, while avoiding problems of multicollinearity that would hinder post-regression statistical inference. We conclude robust, significant evidence that the negative-parabolic shape of the grit-age profile is driven by generational variation and not by age variation. Our findings suggest that, absent a grit-mindset intervention, individual-level grit may be persistent over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-411
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Data Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • achievement
  • aging
  • difference-in-difference
  • grit
  • personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Statistics and Probability


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