Grit and Peers: An Experimental Study on Peer Effects in Perseverance

Perseverance to accomplish long-term goals is a crucial determinant for success in life. Previous studies elicited self-reported perseverance, also known as grit, using the eponymous survey scale (Grit-S). In a novel lab experiment, we introduce a straight-forward behavioral measure of grit. Participants work on an anagram solving task where grit is quantified as the decision to continue working hard despite failure and challenges. We find that the survey measure of grit is significantly correlated with our behavioral measure. In a further treatment, we test whether individuals look at their peers’ behavior to motivate themselves to endure in the anagram solving task. We find that the presence of peers increase their observers’ perseverance, while being observed does not significantly alter behavior. In a third treatment, we investigate the motives to self-select into the role of an observing participant or that of a participant that is observed and which kind of peers individuals deliberately choose. Our findings provide novel insights


Leonie Gerhards and Christina Gravert

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