Grit

by

Angela Duckworth

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Marty Seligman Character Analysis

Marty Seligman is an influential American psychologist who studies depression, resilience, and optimism. He is widely known for founding the field of positive psychology and discovering the phenomenon of “learned helplessness” alongside Steve Maier in the 1960s. Seligman was also Duckworth’s advisor during graduate school, and she remembers when he told her that she “ha[d]n’t had a good idea in two years” because she had no theory to explain her findings about achievement. Now, they are colleagues and occasional research collaborators at the University of Pennsylvania.

Marty Seligman Quotes in Grit

The Grit quotes below are all either spoken by Marty Seligman or refer to Marty Seligman. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of Grit published in 2018.
Chapter 9: Hope Quotes

Collectively, the evidence I’ve presented tells the following story: A fixed mindset about ability leads to pessimistic explanations of adversity, and that, in turn, leads to both giving up on challenges and avoiding them in the first place. In contrast, a growth mindset leads to optimistic ways of explaining adversity, and that, in turn, leads to perseverance and seeking out new challenges that will ultimately make you even stronger.

growth mindset  optimistic self-talk  perseverance over adversity

Related Characters: Angela Duckworth (speaker), Carol Dweck, Marty Seligman, Steve Maier
Page Number: 191-2
Explanation and Analysis:
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Grit PDF

Marty Seligman Character Timeline in Grit

The timeline below shows where the character Marty Seligman appears in Grit. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: Effort Counts Twice
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
Psychology and Human Development Theme Icon
Duckworth remembers when her graduate school advisor, the influential but intimidating Marty Seligman, told her that she didn’t have any good ideas. She was collecting lots of data,... (full context)
Chapter 9: Hope
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
Developing Grit Theme Icon
Psychology and Human Development Theme Icon
In the 1960s, psychology students Marty Seligman and Steve Maier gave dogs electric shocks but let half of them reduce the length... (full context)
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
Developing Grit Theme Icon
Psychology and Human Development Theme Icon
Seligman and Maier’s experiment shows that suffering makes people hopeless only when they believe they can’t... (full context)
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
Developing Grit Theme Icon
Psychology and Human Development Theme Icon
...are usually optimistic: they see failure as a learning experience, not a disappointment. In fact, Seligman’s mentor, Aaron Beck, realized that mental illness often depends on the way people interpret their... (full context)
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
Psychology and Human Development Theme Icon
Grit and Society Theme Icon
In graduate school, Duckworth attended a meeting with Seligman and Wendy Kopp, the founder and CEO of Teach For America (an organization that sends... (full context)
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
Developing Grit Theme Icon
Psychology and Human Development Theme Icon
Grit and Society Theme Icon
In the late 1960s, after reading Seligman and Maier’s work, psychology student Carol Dweck started wondering why some people become optimists and... (full context)
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
Developing Grit Theme Icon
...adolescents more independent and confident. But other challenges make people weaker—like the “pessimistic” dogs from Seligman and Maier’s experiment. Duckworth asks why: which challenges strengthen people, and which ones weaken them?... (full context)
Chapter 11: The Playing Fields of Grit
Developing Grit Theme Icon
Psychology and Human Development Theme Icon
...tasks worked harder at a subsequent task than students who received easy ones. Just like Seligman and Maier discovered “learned helplessness,” Eisenberger discovered “learned industriousness.” (full context)