A brief behavioral measure of frustration tolerance predicts academic achievement immediately and two years later.
Achieving important goals is widely assumed to require confronting obstacles, failing repeatedly, and persisting in the face of frustration. Yet empirical evidence linking achievement and frustration tolerance is lacking. To facilitate work on this important topic, we developed and validated a novel behavioral measure of frustration tolerance: the Mirror Tracing Frustration Task (MTFT). In this 5-min task, participants allocate time between a difficult tracing task and entertaining games and videos. In two studies of young adults (Study 1: N = 148, Study 2: N = 283), we demonstrated that the MTFT increased frustration more than 18 other emotions, and that MTFT scores were related to self-reported frustration tolerance. Next, we assessed whether frustration tolerance correlated with similar constructs, including self-control and grit, as well as objective measures of real-world achievement. In a prospective longitudinal study of high-school seniors (N = 391), MTFT scores predicted grade-point average and standardized achievement test scores, and-more than 2 years after completing the MTFT-progress toward a college degree. Though small in size (i.e., rs ranging from .10 to .24), frustration tolerance predicted outcomes over and above a rich set of covariates, including IQ, sociodemographics, self-control, and grit. These findings demonstrate the validity of the MTFT and highlight the importance of frustration tolerance for achieving valued goals. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).