Angela Duckworth is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. She received an A.B. (1992) from Harvard College, an M.Sc. (1996) from the University of Oxford, and a Ph.D. (2006) from the University of Pennsylvania. She taught math and science at the high school level prior to joining the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 2007. Her articles have appeared in such publications as PNAS, the Journal of Educational Psychology, Psychological Science, and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Dr. Duckworth’s studies clarify the role that intellectual strengths and personality traits play in educational achievement. Her work primarily examines two traits that she demonstrates predict success in life: grit—the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward long-term goals—and self-control—the voluntary regulation of behavioral, emotional, and attentional impulses. She is particularly interested in the subjective experience of exerting self-control and grit, and conscious strategies that facilitate adaptive behavior in the face of temptation, frustration, and distraction.
In her early work, Dr. Duckworth and her colleagues devised empirical measures of grit and self-control in both children and adults and established their predictive validity for a number of dimensions of success. They found that these traits predict objectively measured success outcomes, even when controlling for cognitive ability. More recently, in pioneering research showing that children can learn and practice strategies for internalizing self-control, she has turned intuitions about self-regulation into scientifically informed, highly practical approaches to teaching and learning. Currently working to develop interventions that foster self-control in children and implement her research in real-world situations, she is 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 US.