Degree Date

5-2016

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Social Work and Social Research

Abstract

This research intended to further our understanding of the new construct grit, defined as maintaining persistence and passion when pursuing long-term goals despite setbacks and obstacles (Duckworth et al., 2007). Studies have shown grit to be a significant determinant of success. I view grit as malleable, with neurobiology, genetic makeup, developmental stage, and environmental factors all seen as interacting to shape its trajectory. I examine three potential influences on grit: attachment, stress, and coping, or responses to stress, links that had not been previously examined. The study was conducted on lower socioeconomic, 18-year-old high school seniors. Lower income status and late adolescence are both known to be sources of vulnerability. Adolescence is also a time of great neuroplasticity. Thus, adolescence may be an especially opportune time to intervene and those from low-income backgrounds may benefit greatly from interventions that may improve grit. The results of this exploratory study established that there is a relationship between attachment and grit. Not only was a relationship found, but results suggest that attachment and grit may share a common underlying factor structure. Furthermore, a connection between coping strategies and grit was found, as was a relationship between stress and grit. The results of this study can potentially offer multiple points of intervention for policy makers, teachers, and social workers alike. In particular, at risk adolescents may benefit from relational interventions designed to improve attachment, aid in the development of more effective responses to stress, thereby improving grittiness.

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