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Duckworth Named 2013 MacArthur Fellow

This is a photo of Angela Lee Duckworth.The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has named University of Pennsylvania scientist and APS member Angela Lee Duckworth a 2013 MacArthur Fellow. She is among 24 MacArthur Fellows chosen this year for exceptional creativity as well as “a track record of achievement and the potential for even more significant contributions in the future.”

A former math and science teacher, Duckworth received a PhD in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006. Her research focuses on how factors other than intelligence predict achievement. Specifically, she is interested in grit, self-control, and the demonstrated role that both of these personality traits play in predicting success.

Duckworth defines self-control as a short-term ability to control behavior and mental states for the sake of important personal goals; grit is a longer-term ability to maintain interest in and a commitment to personal goals. Self-control, Duckworth has found, is a better predictor than intelligence of report-card grades and improvements in grades over time. Her research has also shown that grit is a better predictor than West Point’s own integrative talent index of which West Point cadets will stay at the academy after the notoriously difficult first summer of training.

Empirical evidence of the influence that grit and self-control exert on success has inspired Duckworth to develop and test strategies for teaching both of these important personality traits. In a statement, the MacArthur Foundation praised Duckworth for “providing an alternative to the focus on cognitive skills now dominant in American education practice and contributing significantly to a reevaluation of education policies in the United States.”

Duckworth was recognized as an APS Rising Star in 2011 and is a past APS Annual Convention presenter. As a MacArthur Fellow, she will receive a $625,000 stipend over 5 years for the purpose of following her own creative vision as a researcher. She joins behavioral economist Colin Camerer, California Institute of Technology, and neuroscientist Sheila Nirenberg, Weill Cornell Medical College, as psychological scientists in the 2013 class of MacArthur Fellows.

Read Angela Lee Duckworth’s recent Observer article, “True Grit.”

Observer Vol.26, No.9 November, 2013

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