psychologist of success
Ever wonder why the smartest kids in class aren't necessarily the most successful? So did Angela Duckworth, a former McKinsey consultant who was teaching 7th-grade math at the time. To find out, the Harvard + Oxford alum went back to school herself.
The answer? A trait Angela calls "grit," a combination of passion and perseverance for a long-term goal. Turns out having grit and self control can be more critical to achievement than intelligence.
Now a psychologist, Angela continues to research grit at her UPenn lab. She's even created a grit test. But if you score low, don't despair. The best part of grit, she says, is that it may well be something you can learn.
her research on grit | the combination of passion + perseverance for a long-term goal can be more critical to success than intelligence
2005 | began research at The Duckworth Lab as an Associate Professor at The University of Pennsylvania
2009 | gave first TedX talk on the importance of grit, leading to an encore on the big stage 4 years later
2013 | won MacArthur "genius" grant for pioneering research on grit and self-control
from | to
management consultant + junior high school math teacher | award-winning psychologist studying the importance of grit and self control for achievement
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Angela Susan Lee
also known as
Dr. Angela Duckworth
United States of America
Theresa + Dr. Y.K. Lee
~Chinese immigrants who were not tiger parents~
Center City, Pennsylvania
~ Cambridge, Massachusetts | AB in Advanced Studies Neurobiology |1992 ~
~ Oxford, England, United Kingdom | MSc in Neuroscience | 1996 ~
University of Pennsylvania
~ Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | MA + PhD in Psychology | 2006 ~
psychology + achievement
Jason Matthew Duckworth
2 daughters | Amanda + Lucy
closing the achievement gap and helping all children reach their potential
worked alongside | influenced by
~ founder of KIPP ~
~ author + director of University of Pennsylvania's Positive Psychology Center ~
in her spare time
founded the Character Lab to study strategies that build character
Joseph Sinnott | PBS
collapse bio bits
"Character is at least as important as intellect."to Penn's Graduate Program in Positive Psychology | september 2002
"If you are a boat, a really fast shiny boat that is going quickly towards one destination but then tacks to another direction to go to another port and then tacks again—eventually you end up being a really shiny boat that goes fast nowhere."True grit? Can perseverance be taught? | october 2009
"History and psychology tell us that changing around a lot is not a good way to get anywhere."True grit. Can perseverance be taught? | october 2009
"I have complete conviction that this is an incredibly important scientific question. If we can figure out the science of behavior and behavior change, if we can figure out what is motivation and how to motivate people, what is frustration and how do we manage it, what is temptation and why do people succumb to it—that to me would be akin to the semiconductor."Character's Content | may 2012
"The earlier you start, the bigger bang for your buck you get in terms of closing the gap between the privileged and the non-privileged."Character's Content | may 2012
"People with grit don't believe that failure is a permanent condition."The key to success? Grit | april 2013
"Grit is sticking with your future—day in, day out, not just for a week, not just for a month, but for years—and working really hard to make that future a reality."The key to success? Grit | april 2013
"We have focused our attention on identifying and understanding the hares among us. It is time to think seriously about the tortoises and what keeps them going."True Grit | april 2013
The key to success? Grit.
See Angela share her story + the key outcomes from her innovative research in this popular 2013 TED Talk with more than 5 million views. The former math teacher's work as a psychologist is helping re-think our education system ~ by helping us rethink success first and foremost as a matter of perseverance, not intelligence.
TED Talks Education
MacArthur Fellows | Meet the Class of 2013
The MacArthur Foundation selected Angela as one of their "geniuses" ~ providing funding to further her pioneering psychological research. The psychologist of success plans to use the support to create objective measures and launch longitudinal studies that help us understand the science of achievement behavior.
The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation