The dictionary defines grit as courage and resolve or strength of character. According to Perlis (2013), courage is also the most important characteristic of grit.

Wong (2015) interpreted Frankl’s defiant power of the human spirit as the moral courage to maintain one’s cherished values and human dignity in the face of suffering and death. Wong’s (1995) research has documented that the courage to face failure or pain is the main contributing factor of persistence.

Belief in the meaning and value of one’s mission contributes to sustained passion. Without such conviction, passion cannot be sustained overtime, especially during long stretches of non-reward and setbacks. Wong and Reilly’s (2017) two-factor theory of self-transcendence emphasize the importance of worldview, beliefs and meaning mindset in sustaining one’s passion or motivation for meaning.

Duckworth asks: What are the two factors (passion and persistence) essential for exceptional performance and success in the traditional achievement settings, such as school or career? (Quast, 2017). From the perspective of second wave positive psychology (PP 2.0), I ask: What are the additional two factors (courage and belief) essential for exceptional capacity for survival and resilience in extraordinary circumstances, such as in the case of a P.O.W. (McCain, 2004; Wong, 2015) or internment at a concentration camp (Frankl, 1985)?


Click here to view the True Grit Checklist (TGC) (Wong, 2014)

Click here to view the preliminary True Grit Scale (TGS) (Wong, 2018)


  1. Frankl, V. E. (1985). Man’s search for meaning (Revised & updated ed.). New York, NY: Washington Square Press.
  2. McCain, J. (2004). Why courage matters: The way to a braver life. New York, NY: Random House.
  3. Perlis, M. M. (2013, October 29). 5 characteristics of grit—how many do you have? Forbes. Retrieved from
  4. Quast, L. (2017, March 6). Why grit if more important than IQ when you’re trying to become successful. Forbes. Retrieved from
  5. Wong, P. T. P. (1995). A stage model of coping with frustrative stress. In R. Wong (Ed.), Biological perspectives on motivated activities (pp. 339-378). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
  6. Wong, P. T. P. (2015). The positive psychology of grit: The defiant power of the human spirit. [Review of the movie Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie]. PsycCRITIQUES, 60(25).
  7. Wong, P. T. P., & Reilly, T. (2017, August 16). Frankl’s self-transcendence model and virtue ethics (Part 2 of 2). The Virtue Blog. Retrieved from


Wong, P. T. P. (2018, May 11). Four-factor theory of true grit. Dr. Paul T. P. Wong. Retrieved from