Angela Duckworth is an Identity and Personality Network Leader and Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work examines how non-cognitive traits influence achievement, and in particular grit, the ability to persevere in achieving long-term goals and self-control. Duckworth was named a 2013 MacArthur fellow for her work in clarifying the role of intellectual strengths and personality traits in education.
Please describe your area of study and how it relates to current policy discussions surrounding inequality.
I study competencies like self-control and grit that promote achievement. To the extent that there are gaps in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged members of society, understanding how to cultivate these competencies may help close that gap.
What are areas in the study of inequality most in need of new research?
I think there is a profound need for measurement of what I call character strengths and others might term non-cognitive skills or social-emotional competencies. If you cannot measure something, you cannot study it, and if you can't study it, it's hard to deliberately improve it.
What advice do you have for emerging scholars in your field?
When you are both intellectually interested in something and emotionally connected to it as well, you'll find you have boundless energy. For me, understanding the psychology of effort and achievement meets these dual criteria: fascinating topic and deeply resonant with my lifelong goal to help kids thrive.