Gritty people try harder: Grit and effort-related cardiac autonomic activity during an active coping challenge

Paul J. Silvia, Kari M. Eddington, Roger E. Beaty, Emily C. Nusbaum, Thomas R. Kwapil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Grit, a recently proposed personality trait associated with persistence for long-range goals, predicts achievement in a wide range of important life outcomes. Using motivational intensity theory, the present research examined the physiological underpinnings of grit during an active coping task. Forty young adults completed the Short Grit Scale and worked on a self-paced mental effort task. Effort-related autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity was assessed using impedance cardiography, which yielded measures of sympathetic activity (pre-ejection period; PEP) and parasympathetic activity (respiratory sinus arrhythmia; RSA). Multilevel models revealed that people high on the Perseverance of Effort subscale showed autonomic coactivation: both PEP and RSA became stronger during the task, reflecting higher activity of both ANS divisions. The Consistency of Interest subscale, in contrast, predicted only weaker sympathetic activity (slower PEP). Taken together, the findings illuminate autonomic processes associated with how "gritty" people pursue goals, and they suggest that more attention should be paid to the facets' distinct effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-205
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Active coping
  • Effort
  • Grit
  • Impedance cardiography
  • Motivational intensity
  • Pre-ejection period
  • Respiratory sinus arrhythmia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Gritty people try harder: Grit and effort-related cardiac autonomic activity during an active coping challenge'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this