Grit

by

Angela Duckworth

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Steve Maier Character Analysis

Steve Maier is a highly influential neuroscientist who studies how the brain reacts to stress. He and Marty Seligman developed the concept of “learned helplessness” through electroshock experiments on dogs in the 1960s. In a later experiment, Maier found that rats who can control the electric shocks they receive as adolescents grow into more courageous and resilient adults. Duckworth cites Maier’s research to explain how people can develop the hope that is crucial to grit.

Steve Maier Quotes in Grit

The Grit quotes below are all either spoken by Steve Maier or refer to Steve Maier. 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

Steve Maier Character Timeline in Grit

The timeline below shows where the character Steve Maier appears in Grit. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
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 of the shocks... (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 control it.... (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 others become... (full context)
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
Developing Grit Theme Icon
...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? Recently, Maier... (full context)
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
Developing Grit Theme Icon
Psychology and Human Development Theme Icon
To better understand Maier’s research, Duckworth visited him. Maier explained that stress automatically activates primitive limbic areas in the... (full context)
Chapter 11: The Playing Fields of Grit
Developing Grit Theme Icon
Psychology and Human Development Theme Icon
...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)