How do we measure Mental Toughness?
Crust and Clough (2005) identified mental toughness as a trait-like dimension of personality, extending the conceptualisation of hardiness (Kobasa et al., 1982) by adding confidence to the three existing concepts of, control, commitment and challenge. Horsburgh et al.’s (2009) research later confirmed that individual differences in mental toughness were indeed largely attributable to genetic and non-shared environmental factors.
The four components of the mental toughness model defined by Crust and Clough (2005) are control, commitment, challenge and confidence (4Cs). Their research identified a mentally tough athlete as someone who (a) views negative experiences, or situations as challenges to be overcome, (b) believes they are influential in controlling their future life experiences, (c) remains committed to achieving their goals, and (d) is confident in their abilities to overcome negative life experiences.
Mentally tough individuals are likely to be resilient to stress, thrive in competition, have reduced anxiety and be high in self-confidence. Based on completion of the Mental Toughness 48 Questionnaire (MTQ48) (Crust & Clough, 2005), the authors reported a strong association between mental toughness and physical endurance during a task to hold a dumbbell suspended with a straight arm in front of the body, and speculated that mentally tough participants benefit from a buffering effect that impacts either the attention to, or the perception of, pain.
Although, Crust and Clough (2005) invited further investigation of mental toughness in physically demanding situations to better understand physiological correlates some major limitations were apparent in the study. The participants were all students of a similar mean age of 21 years (SD=2.7) and weight 79.6 kg (SD=5.0), and the nature of the task was inherently boring, with no consideration given to previous weight training experience or existing participation in sports that may physically prepare the participant for performing the task. Context may also have an effect, the pressure of producing good results in a tough training session, or more importantly in competition,
The divergent validity of the MTQ48 has also been challenged, due to concerns regarding the underlying
Gucciardi, D. F., Hanton, S., & Mallett, C. J. (2012). Progressing measurement in mental toughness: A case example of the Mental Toughness Questionnaire 48. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology,1(3), 194-214.
Gucciardi, M., Hanrahan
Horsburgh, V.A., Schermer, J.A., Veselka, L., Vernon, P.A. (2009). A
Kobasa, S. C., Maddi, S. R., Kahn, S. (1982). Hardiness and
Vaughan, R., Hanna, D., & Breslin, G. (2018). Psychometric properties of the Mental Toughness Questionnaire 48 (MTQ48) in elite, amateur and nonathletes. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology,7(2), 128-140.