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date: 25 April 2019

Mental Toughness

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.

Mental toughness describes how an individual deals with challenges, stress, and pressure. Conceptually it is related to constructs such as resilience, personality, and motivation. There is a debate about whether mental toughness is a personality trait, or instead a mindset that is amenable to change. However, there is a consensus that mental toughness is composed of a set of related attributes. According to the most popular model these attributes are challenge, commitment, control of emotion, control of life, confidence in abilities, and interpersonal confidence. In recent years research has revealed an important role for these attributes in education. Mental toughness scores have been found to predict a range of educational outcomes and experiences, including attainment, attendance, classroom behavior, peer relationships, and the ease of educational transitions. These findings have important implications for educational practice. They suggest that interventions aiming to enhance mental toughness could have widespread effects. The development of methods for enhancing mental toughness is still in its infancy, but a small number of studies suggest that they have great potential. Further developing our understanding of the origins of mental toughness and its role in education could therefore be very beneficial.