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I am a M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology. Most of my experience has been in human resources and change management. My passion lies in employee assessment, organizational development and employee opinions. Website: www.IanMondrow.com LinkedIn Profile: http://linkd.in/drBYoC

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mental toughness: Managerial and Age Differences

Reference: Marchant, D.C., Polman R.C., Clough, P.J., Jackson, J.G., Levy, A. R., & Nicholls, A.R. (2008). Mental toughness: managerial and age differences. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 24(5), 428-437.

Reviewed by: Ian B. Mondrow, M.A.

The notion of mental toughness first made its appearance in sport psychology. There is a belief that mental toughness results in success. Previous research has suggested that have been 12 or 30 attributes that compose this theory. Currently, there is no set definition for the term as it varies depending on the research. For the purpose of this research, it has been defined as the confidence that an individual can control his/her own destiny regardless of competition or adversity (Clough et. al, 2002). It is composed of the 4C's:

Control - The belief that one is influential.
Commitment - The tendency to immerse oneself in an activity instead of avoiding it.
Challenge- The viewpoint that life is changeable and one should learn from mistakes.
Confidence - One's self-belief in their ability to achieve.

The Mental Toughness Questionnaire 48 (MTQ48) is an assessment use to measure mental toughness within the sporting industry. It measures mental toughness and five sub-scales. The assessment has been found to be positively correlated with optimism and negatively correlated with pessimism. Both age and sporting experience have an impact on one's score.

The researchers of this study recruited 522 (210 male, 304 female, 8 missing) participants from organizations in the UK to take the MTQ48. 157 were senior managers, 189 were were middle managers, 112 were junior managers and 64 were in a clerical role. Prior to assessment, the reliability was tested with a Cronbach's Alpha of .89. Construct validity was also established due to the positive correlations with optimism (.48), self-image (.42), life satisfaction (.56), self-efficacy (.68) and trait anxiety (.57).

Two seperate MANOVAs were conducted for age and position level. It was found that higher level positions do indeed score higher on mental toughness than lower level positions. However, junior managers shared similar scores as those in a clerical role. The differences between the groups was statistically significant, as proved by post-hoc ANOVA. Age also revealed significant findings. This could suggest that mental toughness is a indicator for growth potential or that senior employees develop mental toughness as a result of their roles.

Older individuals scored significantly higher scores than their younger associates. The researchers claim that based on the results, it can be claimed that mental toughness can be developed like any other managerial skill. This is suggestive of the findings that mental toughness and the 4 subscales increased significantly with increasing age.

Since there was no interaction between age and position level, this would provide support that managerial positions are associated with mental toughness as a result of selection or development. It does suggest that mental toughness can be developed over time and/or by increasing the responsibilities of an employee.

Although mental toughness is a novel term, it may prove valuable with future research. It is difficult to say how the notion could be utilized. It may be possible to use it for as selection criteria but it is not recommended unless it is essential for the job. At this point, mental toughness could be used development tool. It can assist employees with identifying their current level of toughness and identifying [using the sub-scales] where they need to improve. Potentially, it could assist employees with growing within an organization.

At this point, the term needs clarification and an official definition. Without it, it would be difficult to utilize in the field.

1 comment:

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