RR12.1: Self-Discipline More Important Than IQ
In summary, the study revealed the following regarding the effect of self-discipline:[i]
- Highly self-disciplined adolescents outperformed their more impulsive counterparts on every academic-performance variable, including report-card grades, standardized achievement-test scores, admission to a competitive high school, and attendance.
- Self-discipline measured in the fall predicted more variance in each of these outcomes: report-card grades, standardized achievement-test scores, admission to a competitive high school, and attendance, than did IQ, and unlike IQ, self-discipline predicted gains in academic performance over the school year.
- The correlation coefficients between self-discipline and most achievement indicators were significantly higher than and at least twice the size of correlations between IQ and the same outcomes.
It certainly seems clear that self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than intellectual talent. However, who or what do parents blame when their children underachieve? Usually the school, teachers, lack of tutors, and large class sizes. While these are important factors, parents should also look closer to home—perhaps they failed to teach their children to make wise choices, to sacrifice short-term pleasures for long-term gains, and to pay attention to rules and remember instructions.
[i] Duckworth, A. L., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance of adolescents. Psychological Science, 16(12), 939–944.